CNET News Video: Making snow with a mobile phone
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

CNET News Video: Making snow with a mobile phone

3:02 /

On the slopes of Sochi, Olympic organizers have more than 400 snow-making machines on stand by. Technology is making it easier and more efficient to make snow, even from a mobile phone. CNET's Sumi Das visits Lake Tahoe to find out what it takes to create a winter wonderland when nature isn't cooperating.

-As a skier or boarder, you wouldn't guess that buried beneath these slopes is a complex web of pipes. -Right where we're standing there's pipes and-- -All over-- all over the mountain? -All over the mountain. -Thank you. Have a good day. -Like most major ski resorts, Northstar California in Lake Tahoe can keep trails open even during a drought. With sophisticated snow-making equipment, the life of a machine made snowflake begins where all those pipes originate, at the base of the mountain. -And there's these air compressors and they can press 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. Here's a stick gun and this is a fan gun. -Basically uses the big fan on the back and then the front of the gun at the nozzles there's a bunch of water nozzles in the front. -Okay. -So, the fan just forces the air out, water interjects into the air stream and it just falls to the ground as snow. -It's equipment like this that's transformed Sochi, a subtropical city. -Same stuff in the Olympics that they used 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 national snow or man-made snow, and they make, you know, if it warms up during the day, they may add a little salt to it, makes it set up during the day, so it's a little bit firmer. -Chilly temperatures definitely help. The colder it is, the more efficient snow guns become. Northstar typically fires up 125 guns nightly. But they're only turned on when the mercury drops below a certain temperature. -How much snow can this stick gun generate? -This is about 14 to 75 gallons per minute, and it runs 24 hours a day when it's cold. And so, it'll cover this area right here. In 3 or 4 days, you could ski this area when you put a snowcat on and groom it out. -Over the past 10 years, snow-making has become highly automated to the point that the snow guns on the mountain can be controlled with an iPhone app. -We start compressors and we start water pumps and actually you can adjust these guns with your iPhone which is really pretty cool. -An antenna enables communication with the guns which have built-in intelligence too. It's got a computer on board, it monitors the outside temperature, relative humidity, calculates wet bulb, turns the water up, makes more snow when it gets cold, turns itself down when it warms up, and if it really gets warm, turns itself off. -As you might imagine, this is an expensive way to keep lifts running. -It does cost money to run snow-making 'cause you have power bill, you have all these machinery and labor, but it's like an insurance policy if mother nature doesn't kick. -This winter, it's not just California ski resorts that are depending on snow-making technology, it's also athletes going for the gold in Sochi. In Lake Tahoe, I'm Sumi Das, CNET for CBS News.
  • This is the interactive sidebar!

    Click any icon for more information as they appear--don't worry, we'll pause the video and wait for you to come back.

  • Links Polls Galleries
  • Video Review

New releases

The Asus RT-AC87U is a big step...
3:51 July 31, 2014
CNET editor Dong Ngo shows you how to spy on your loved ones with the Asus RT-AC87U Wi-Fi router. It's fu...
Play video
Don't expect the new Apple TV until...
5:25 July 31, 2014
Content deals are still holding back Apple's next set-top box. New MacBook Pros get a speed bump, will iMac's...
Play video
Tomorrow Daily 028: Treating addiction...
24:50 July 31, 2014
On today's show, we discuss treating addiction with virtual reality, how Qi wireless charging might evolve,...
Play video
Sony's SRS-X3 takes aim at Bose's...
2:24 July 31, 2014
Sony's compact $150 Bluetooth speaker offers strong sound for its size and costs $50 less than the Bose.
Play video
DoorBot's digital peephole doesn't...
1:57 July 31, 2014
BOT Home Automation's $199 Wi-Fi doorbell promises increased security and convenience, but does it delive...
Play video
Virgin Mobile offers plans just...
2:56 July 31, 2014
A new plan on Virgin lets customers pay to use certain apps, Internet.org brings free mobile Web access to...
Play video
Find your hidden Facebook inbo...
1:04 July 31, 2014
Facebook keeps a second inbox for messages from outside of your social network. Here's how to find it.
Play video
Sky backs Oculus Rift in CNET UK...
38:32 July 31, 2014
Self-driving cars are coming to UK roads, and Sky is throwing money at virtual reality -- but would you watch...
Play video
 

Video discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre