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Climate: Laser technology helps unravel the mystery of ice-nucleating bacteria

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So many snowflakes, so many mysteries …

Proteins found to remove heat and order water molecules

More Summit Voice snow stories

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Snowmakers at Colorado ski areas have long known that some species of bacteria can help the process of crystal formation, so they use additives derived from those bacteria to help boost output.

The bacteria’s outer membranes include special proteins that help ice crystals form. That helps the bacteria trigger frost formation at warmer than normal temperatures on plants, enabling them to invade through the frost-damaged tissue. When the bacteria die, many of the proteins are wafted up into the atmosphere, where they can alter the weather by seeding clouds and precipitation. Continue reading

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Morning photo: The hand of man

Not all natural …

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Buffalo Mountain from the Frisco Nordic Center at dawn.

FRISCO — As it started to get light Thursday morning I glanced out the kitchen window and noticed a thick layer of low-lying fog over part of Frisco Bay. That seemed a bit unusual since the reservoir has been frozen over for a few weeks, and the fog generally stops forming after the ice thickens up. So after getting my son off to school, I jumped in the car and headed up Highway 9 toward Breckenridge. It didn’t take long to discover the source of the fog. The snow-making machines at the Frisco Nordic Center and tubing hill were going all out, and with an atmospheric inversion in place, the frozen mists from the nozzles were being pushed down and out across the Reservoir. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowmaking impacts Snake River flows

Massive Snake River snowmaking diversions means tough times for trout after drought summer

This year’s snowpack is well below average and tracking just barely above last year’s.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The most recent snowstorm helped boost the overall Colorado snowpack just a bit, bringing it on par with last year’s level at this time, which is still well below average for mid-November. Statewide, the snowpack was at 57 percent of average, as of Nov. 15, with most West Slope basins between 50 and 60 percent of average. Even the North Platte drainage, which has seen some significant snows in the Never Summer Range, is only at 64 percent of average.

In Summit and Eagle counties, many streams are flowing at or below historic low levels, creating challenges for some ski areas that rely on direct stream diversions for snowmaking. Keystone, for example, has had to dial back its snow guns several times in the past week as the Snake River dropped to a flow of just six cubic feet per second, the minimum required under state regulations. Continue reading

Colorado ski areas likely to start making snow this week

Shot of cold air from Canada expected mid-week; lows Wednesday and Thursday could dip into the teens

Cold air from Canada is poised to spill into the center of the country during the coming week.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In what sounds like good news for ski resorts eager to start making snow, the National Weather Service is forecasting a strong cold front to drop out of Canada mid-week, with overnight lows dropping into the teens and 20s starting Wednesday night.

That’s plenty cold to fire up the snow guns, which have already been moved into position at Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, the two resorts that traditionally compete for opening day honors. Starting Wednesday, nighttime lows should stay well below freezing, especially at the higher elevations. Continue reading

Weekend headlines

Snow was part of the weekend news, as Loveland and A-Basin fired up their snowmaking systems after cooler temps brought a dusting of snow to the area.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Quick links to the Summit Voice weekend headlines, with interesting stories from the Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop, coverage of the global 10/10/10 events to cap heat-trapping carbon dioxide at 350 parts per million and much more. Click the headlines to read the story and share them with the social media buttons at the bottom of each post.

Dust storms implicated in Colorado avalanches

Worldwide rallies held to combat global warming

This land is your land – but not for dumping trash

CDOW to restore popular Grand Mesa trout fishery

Summit Rotarians visit the Climax Mine

Morning photo: Change of seasons

Snowmaking under way in Colorado

State-record 43-lb. catfish caught in Aurora Reservoir

Massive crop failures more likely with global warming

Avalanche pros pow-wow at Leadville workshop

Snowmaking under way in Colorado

Early morning, Oct. 8 at Copper Mountain, where the overnight snow reached nearly to the valley floor. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

And the race is on …

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Loveland fired up its snowmaking system early Friday morning to get a jump start on the annual race to open. A cold front passing through the area brought temperatures down into the 20s, and the forecast calls for the cool weather to linger at least through the middle of next week, which should give both Loveland and A-Basin a chance to lay down at least a few inches of base.

A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth wrote in his blog that his snowmaking crews are also standing by, waiting for the wet bulb temperature to drop to 28 degrees. The wet bulb temperature is the combination of temperature and relative humidity, he explains. For example, if the thermometer reads 32 degrees, and the relative humidity is 60 percent, it adds up to the right conditions for snowmaking.

Here’s YouTube video clip from Loveland. Time to wax ‘em up.

Summit County snowmaking season winds down

Snowguns blasted at Copper Mountain recently as the resort geared up for an early season snowboard competition.

Local resorts use millions of gallons of water to lay down a good skiing base for the holidays,  and while snowmaking efficiency has increased, some environmental concerns remain

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Mother Nature hasn’t been overly generous with snowfall yet, but the four ski areas in Summit County have all been able to open good chunks of terrain largely with the help of snowmaking.

Covering runs with enough snow for skiing and building features in terrain parks requires significant amounts of water. The latest figures compiled by state water officials show that Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Keystone have diverted about 1,477 acre feet (481 million gallons) of water from local streams and reservoirs for seasonal snowmaking operations. Continue reading

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