Here’s how Oglebay creates a foot of snow for skiing

Ohio County

Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – It almost seems like an impossible task.

How do you make something out of thin air that nature offers us every winter?

That’s what Oglebay is faced with for their skiing and snowboarding season each year—but thanks to these giant red machines, every day can be a snow day.

We keep our fingers crossed to get it open around the Christmas holidays, but unfortunately this year Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, we’re pushed back here a couple weeks.

Danny Ackerman, General Manager, Golf and Ski Operations

Each December or January, the park hauls out these 35 thousand-dollar snow guns to work even when the precipitation won’t cooperate.

The powerful winds blow full bore all day and night, slowly building up a layer of powdery snow for smooth riding.

Making snow whenever you want might seem like endless winter fun, but they say it actually takes careful planning and a close eye on the forecast.

Because eventually you’re going to have days where you can’t make and it might be four, five, six days in a row where you can’t make it, so you like to build that base up to accommodate when we’re going to lose some.

Danny Ackerman, General Manager, Golf and Ski Operations

Now Mother Nature did provide some snow for us this week, but the two inches we got weren’t quite enough. They say they need a foot for safe skiing, that’s why they run these machines whenever they can.

And they are powerful.

Getting near one of the machines feels like trekking through a blizzard.

But in reality, they’re similar to the fans that keep us cool when it’s hot—just on a much larger scale.

It’s kind of like the misting machines in the summertime. But now if, instead of walking through and you’re getting hit with water droplets, you’re getting hit with ice pellets that still have the same resemblance to snow.

Zach Petey, 7news Chief Meteorologist

It has to do with a precise mixture of temperature and humidity.

They can’t just switch them on when it hits 32 degrees—it takes a certain level of moisture in the air for the newly made snow to really stick.

In that way, the snow we got this week was helpful for the slopes—it’s the icier kind similar to that pumped out by the snow guns.

It was a much drier snow, more so ice-based. And what that is is there’s not a lot of moisture. So whenever you want that good packing snow, you want more moisture.

Zach Petey, 7news Chief Meteorologist

Oglebay’s hill is now smoothed over and ready if you’d like to hit the slopes.

Ticket prices vary between 20 and 30 dollars and they have the rentals right there for you too.

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