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New Machines Allow Snow-Making in Warmer Weather

This cold weather is a big bonus for skiers in our region, but a local ski resort says warmer weather has been no problem.
BOALSBURG, CENTRE COUNTY - This cold weather is a big bonus for skiers in our region, but a local ski resort says warmer weather hasn't been a big problem this season, thanks to new snow-making machines.

In years past, the temperature outside had to be around 25 degrees to make snow, but the new machines allow employees to make snow when it's warmer.

Up in Santa's workshop, they make toys. At Tussey Mountain, they make snow.

"It depends on Mother Nature," Director of Operations, Bennett Hoffman, said. "We'll run it around the clock if the weather permits."

Wednesday, the snow is blowing in full force.

"It's much more efficient, much more smooth because now we have computer-generated types of snow-making machinery," Hoffman said.

The 11 new machines cost about $125,000. Hoffman calls them an investment.

"They actually have an on-board weather station. They can read the weather and decide and readjust the air pressure and water pressure to more effectively make snow in warmer temperatures," he said.

Hoffman says this year, the snow is coming a lot sooner.

"This year, it's about 28 degrees wet bulb temperature. Wet bulb temperature is a combination of dew point, humidity and temperature," he said. "Next year, as we continue to increase our water pressure, we will be able to push up to 30 degree wet bulb. Previously, it was 25 degrees."

Hoffman sees a big difference.

"It's only the second time in 24 years we've been able to open Thanksgiving weekend, so it's created a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in our area for our winter sports activities," he said.

A forecast, he can live with.

"Believe it or not, the mixture of wintry precipitation with ice and snow and sleet, actually starts to create a glacier base that we can blow on top of and it helps preserve our base for a longer period of time," Hoffman said.

These machines will continue to run Wednesday through Friday this week, just in time for the weekend sessions.
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