While some residents may not be looking forward to the cold that winter brings, skiers and ski area operators around New England are growing impatient for cooler weather to arrive.

A series of cold nights will be required to cover the local Camden Snow Bowl with a sufficient blanket of snow to open. The Snow Bowl crew began making snow on the evening of Dec. 16 but soon had to turn off the guns as clouds arrived and temperatures rose. Snow guns may fire up again over the next few days.

Temperature is not the only factor that affects snowmaking. Humidity levels are equally important. A term used in snowmaking is the “wet bulb” temperature, made up of the combined measures of temperature and humidity. If the wet bulb temperature is low enough for long enough, then enough snow can be made to last through upcoming warm spells. Optimally, the ground should also be frozen before snowmaking begins.

Another technical term related to snowmaking is the “lapse rate,” or the decrease in temperature as you go up in elevation. If the lapse rate is great enough, it is sometimes possible to make snow closer to the summit when the wet bulb temperature at the base of the mountain isn’t conducive.

Forecasts indicate that there may be windows of time in upcoming weeks when snow can be made at night. General Manager of the Camden Snow Bowl, Landon Fake, says, “If we get clear nights with marginal temps, we may be able to move more guns uphill and make snow just up high. Running the snow guns only at night is not ideal from a labor standpoint,” he explains. “It takes a couple of hours to get everything prepared and running and a couple of hours to shut down, drain the guns, hoses and pipe. So for eight hours of making snow we are working 12 hours. On the other hand,” he adds, “using part of the system for smaller amounts of time can cost less in electricity peak demand charges.”

 

Instructional programs for all ages are set to launch, highlighted by the addition of a new freestyle program camdensnowbowl.com/freestyle. Trainings for staff, ski instructors, ski patrol and volunteers are under way, and the base lodge and rental shop are set to welcome skiers as soon as temperatures cooperate.

The Camden Snow Bowl is a community ski area owned and operated by the Town of Camden. The Snow Bowl is in its second year of an $8 million dollar redevelopment for which 75 percent is provided through private donations and 25 percent by a municipal bond. The goal of the redevelopment is to create a facility that serves as a magnet for four-season recreation in Maine’s Midcoast.