DIY Friday: Snowmaking

China plans to halt rain for Olympics – I didn’t beleive the headline when I read it the first time, but I guess this isn’t a pipe dream:

The Chinese are among the world’s leaders in what is called "weather modification," but they have more experience creating rain than preventing it. In fact, the techniques are virtually the same.

Cloud-seeding is a relatively well-known practice that involves shooting various substances into clouds, such as silver iodide, salts and dry ice, that bring on the formation of larger raindrops, triggering a downpour. But Chinese scientists believe they have perfected a technique that reduces the size of the raindrops, delaying the rain until the clouds move on.

The weather modification would be used only on a small area, opening what would be in effect a meteorological umbrella over the 91,000-seat Olympic stadium. The $400-million stadium, nicknamed the "bird’s nest" for its interlacing steel beams, has no roof.

This isn’t that unusual, apparently. Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming have all experimented with cloud seeding this winter, mostly to relieve draught conditions.

And, of course, people have been playing with weather for years. Take Hunter Mountain in NY – they were one of the first places to use snowmaking technology, and the first to have 100% coverage.

So in honor of Hunter Mountain and my planned weekend ski-trip there (if I ever get this post done), I bring you DIY-Snowmaking. MAKE links to a this site with a number of free plans. There are two main options:

Internal mix snow makers operate by mixing compressed air and water inside the plumbing of the snow maker. This design does work but it has its drawbacks. One of the issues with this design is maintaining the air and water pressure balance to keep an even flow of water coming out the snowmaker, this issue causes a reduction in efficiency. Another problem is the likelihood of having water back into the airline and doing permanent damage to your air compressor. Choose from one of the Internal mix designs below.

External mix snow makers mix air and water outside the body of the snowmaker. This design eliminates most of the problems associated with internal mixing. External mixing completely eliminates the issue of water entering the air line because they are not connected. External mixing also utilizes the water and air more efficiently (less energy}.

Don’t be intimidated. A ten-year-old, frustrated by the lack of snow, built one:

WEST LINN, Ore. – Talk about ingenuity – a 10-year-old boy built his own snow machine and filled his backyard with enough snow to make it look like a blizzard had blown through.

"It was just hypnotizing," said Forest Pearson, who built the snow machine out of a 30-gallon air compressor that he got for Christmas, a pressure washer and a whole lot of research.

Or just buy a machine. Backyard Blizzard has the goods (for $2,400) and the New York Times has a story on your options.