Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Snowfences, When and Where

Someone asked how we make decisions about when and where we put snowfences. I should probably start with how snowfences work. Wind blows snow crystals near the snow surface. When those blowing crystals come to a fence, they tend to rise up and over the fence. The fence acts like a wind break with calmer air on the leeward side of the fence. When the snow crystals hit that calmer air, they fall to the ground causing a snow drift. The closer a fence orientation is to being perpendicular to the predominant wind direction, the more snow the fence will catch.

We build fences in places we would like to put a snow drift. This could a wind swept area or a heavily trafficed area. In most, but not all cases, snowfences are built in places that can be accessed by the snowcats. The cats first pack and then sometimes push the snow to its most preferred spot. 

Snowfences are an absolutely critical component of our snow farming, snowfencing, snow grooming, snow making program.

Below is a fence extension under construction at the Long Chute access to West Zuma. This fence in particular is used to put snow in a key hiking area. Very importantly, most of the snow drift caught by this fence is pushed down to the top pitch of Larkspur.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thx for the info Al...

JonPulliamInc said...

I was the one asking a few posts ago and I really appreciate the info! Gives us an (even) greater appreciation for all the hard work you guys do to make AB what it is! Thanks!!

Fish said...

My friend tried to jump one of these off a catwalk back in 2000 down at Valle Nevado. Things didn't work out so well.
http://bit.ly/1NcFruH

Anonymous said...

I would pay for a class to spend a summer day walking the mountain with Al learning all the "behind the curtain" details of running AB.

Brownjuan Brown said...

Agree with the other comments. Hearing the "why" behind the decisions is great info. Assume decisions on the mountain go thru safety, environment, and cost considerations before anything is done. As we ride the lift we play the pretend CEO role without knowing all the background. Keep the info coming, it is very interesting.