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ReNewSnow Makes Fresh Snow from Recycled Snowmelt

Updated: Jan 15

In a marathon session just before the New Year, ReNewSnow completed the electrical service connection to the Science Hut, assembled the snow gun (with a lot of help from Saddleback ski area), and connected it to the booster pump.

We then waited for the first warming event, which took place over the New Year weekend. Temperatures reached 50 F on December 30, and almost 60 F on December 31. Temperatures remained mostly above freezing with intermittent rain through Thursday January 5. The snowmelt resulting from this prolonged warming event created very strong flow conditions in the stream.

On Friday, January 6, temperatures at the mountain dropped to 28 F for a few hours, allowing us to operate our system for the first time. Unfortunately, after a little more than an hour, the wet bulb temperature increased, our snow became wet, and we had to stop.

Temperatures finally dropped again in the afternoon of January 7, and remained very cold through January 8, which allowed us to operate our snow gun at its maximum capacity, making high-quality snow. We operated for 5 hours on January 7, and several hours on January 8, proving that it is possible to make snow from recycled snowmelt for several days after each warming event.

To our knowledge, this is the first time a ski area has been able to make fresh snow from recycled snowmelt anywhere in the world.

During this first test, our system would have been able to supply water to 3 HKD Volt snow guns operating at their maximum flow rate for more than 48 hours. Our system can be expanded, by adding collection points and increasing the diameter of our pipes, to provide water to all the snow guns on Saddleback's Green Weaver trail for several days after each warming event.

By eliminating the need to pump water up from Saddleback Lake, the ReNewSnow system would lower snow making costs by more than 80% and dramatically reduce its environmental footprint. Ski areas that purchase water to make snow would save even more, since recycling would cut net water usage by more than 50%.

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