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HomeNewsCommunitySnow cannons keep ski resorts open

Snow cannons keep ski resorts open

Brimacombe has been open for 33 days this season but lack of snow means the ski resort has relied on snow-making machines to stay open.

It has been making snow for riders to hit the slopes for around 20-25 days this season.

Despite turning frozen water into snow since November, general manager Mark Rutherford said the warmer weather Ontario is experiencing “immensely” impacts business, especially the perception that there is no snow on the mountains.

“We’ve got great cold weather now,” he said, “but we might have another mild temperature soon that might take all the snow off everybody’s front lawns in town and make them think that we don’t have snow on our hills.”

To combat warmer weather, Brimacombe pulls water from a frozen pond to create its own snow to guarantee it covers “100 per cent of our terrain,” Rutherford said.

He said they use an “inert bacteria,” called Snomax, that allows them to “nucleate” that speeds up the freezing process to allow water to freeze at a much higher than normal temperature.

According to Rutherford, a team of two to three people work around the clock to pump 27.5-million gallons of water over the hills so far, though he said some parts of the process are automated. Many days of this work run 24 hours, seven days a week.

He said even if there wasn’t “a flake of snow in town,” Brimacombe is able to open for business every season. “As long as we have the temperatures, which is the challenge, we can virtually make all the snow that we need.”

Kate Didiano has long, brunette hair that stops at her elbows. She is working on a computer at the front desk of the resort.
Kate Didiano found her calling in Uxbridge, Ont. working at Dagmar Ski Resort. After suffering an injury, fate brought her to Whitby, where she's able to put her passion for winter sports in her job as an office supervisor. Photo credit: Gage Patte

Office supervisor at Dagmar Ski Resort Kate Didiano said “almost every” ski hill inn Ontario has used artificial snow to top up their hills.

According to Didiano, resorts need a minimum of 25 cm base to allow riders to go down the hills. She said Dagmar started making artificial snow in December.

Like Brimacombe, a huge challenge is breaking the perception they’re not open due to warmer weather. One way Dagmar battles this perception is through social media.

“We do send out blasts over Instagram, TikTok and Facebook saying, ‘Hey, come see us.’”

Mountain reports found at the resort, and local area snow reporting software, helps them get the word out to the public that they’re open, whether snow is falling or not.

She said unless you’re “really entrenched” in the winter sports communities, it’s common to hear the notion that someone doesn’t think to go skiing until they see snow on the ground.

“I answer the phone a lot and a lot of the questions are, ‘Do you have snow? And I’m going like, yeah, we’ve had snow for a month and a half, come on out,’” she said.

According to the Weather Network, no snowfall is expected in the next few days with daytime temperatures above zero, meaning resorts will be relying on snow-making machines to keep skiers and snowboarders on the hills.