Temperature fluctuations impact snow grooming activities at Pine Mountain

By  | 

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - High and low temperatures in Dickinson County have been impacting snow grooming activities. Taking a deeper look into snow operations and how they change with fluctuating weather.

Pine Mountain Ski Resort sign. (WLUC Photo)

"After the thaw and freeze we had it is what we call, boiler-plate, it is a chuck of ice out there,” said the mountain manager, at Pine Mountain Ski Resort.

The reason Pine Mountain is operating with the 20 degree change in temperatures? A combination of natural vs. man-made snow.

"When the snow comes down from the sky, it has all these little facets here,” said Jay Van Zeeland the ski operations manager.

Those are all spaces that the warm air we are experiencing can get in and start melting. Skis also cut the natural snow into little pieces, which is not what the hill wants.

"When we make snow out of our machine, it comes out looking a lot more like these little pellets here,” said Van Zeeland.

That means a lot less surface area, meaning it takes a lot longer to melt.

"When somebody comes through here with a ski, it does not cut the edges, but it takes a kind of pushed them out of the way as we take out turn,” said Van Zeeland.

When the weather changes, grooming becomes vital.

"You have to take different route so you don't burn out places, it's more of a game then, it's not just go out and groom,” said Bracket.

Van Zeeland says some places on the hill are over 15 feet deep in powder.

"So we've got plenty of snow out there to be able to take us, even though some of these melted spots, that we can take and start pushing off into other places,” he said.

A veteran skier, and the Pine Mountain Ski Team coach, John Messer, says due to this technique the conditions are great.

"When we get a really warm night, they can groom the snow such that, it's really, really nice,” he said.

Pine Mountain Ski resort is hoping to stay open through Easter, despite the temperatures.