Snow-Making Operations at Northstar Similar to Sochi - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Snow-Making Operations at Northstar Similar to Sochi

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As a skier or boarder, you wouldn't guess that buried beneath some slopes is a complex web of pipes.

"All over the mountain," says James Larmore, director of mountain operations, Northstar California.

Like most major ski resorts Northstar California in Lake Tahoe can keep trails open --even during a drought-- with sophisticated snowmaking equipment.

"There's these big air compressors and they compress air and that air is transferred up the mountain in these pipelines. And there's also water pumps."

Hoses transporting the water and compressed air are hooked up to different types of snow guns.

"It uses a big fan on the back, and the front of the gun, the nozzles, there's a bunch of water nozzles. So the fan just forces air out , water interjects into the air stream and it just falls to the ground as snow."

It's equipment like that that's transformed Sochi, a subtropical city.

"Same stuff that they use in the Olympics, we're using here at Northstar."

And they're using other tricks in Russia.

"They like it a little firmer, because it's faster and they're into speed. So they do two things. They water the course at night and let that freeze on top of natural snow or manmade snow and if it warms up during the day, they may add a little salt to it. Makes it set up during the day a little firmer."

Over the past ten years, snowmaking has become highly automated, to the point that the snow guns on the mountain can be controlled with an iPhone app.

"You start compressors and start water pumps and actually adjust these guns with your iPhone."

It's like an insurance policy if Mother Nature doesn't kick in.

On the slopes of Sochi, Olympic organizers have more than 400 snow-making machines on stand-by. If that's not enough, they've stockpiled snow from last winter and stored it under insulated blankets.

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