Beyond the Forecast: Managing snow takes on a new look

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by RICH MARRIOTT / KING 5 Meteorologist

KING5.com

Posted on November 12, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 11 at 4:43 PM

October in the Swiss Alps and not even a hint of snow on the 9,000 foot peaks surrounding Davos. You might think skiers are getting nervous, but they're not.

Ski areas in the Alps are making increasing amounts of artificial snow as the winter snows become less dependable. They are also finding ways of storing the snow from one season and using it in the next.

Usually snow left at the end of the ski season just melts away, but not in Davos. Here they store their snow in a safe place for the summer.

Underneath what looks like a huge pile of sawdust is 10,000 cubic meters of snow left from last winter.

Swiss Scientists have found that 75 percent of the snow survives the summer and can be spread out as ski trails to jumpstart fall skiing.

And the idea of not wasting what you have is used at some of the highest ski areas in the Alps. Many of these areas are located on shrinking glaciers.

They've begun laying out white blankets in the summer, stopping as much as 60 percent of the melt. Covering sensitive locations is slowing the overall melt and preserving their ski runs.

An Israeli company called IDE discovered that their vacuum method for turning salt water to fresh created snow as a by-product.
Most importantly, their process could work at temperatures well above freezing.

Their equipment is now being used to extend the seasons in Zermatt and Pitztal ski areas, where they produce nearly 2,000 cubic meters of skiing snow per day.

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