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Weather Wise: Snow Farming

Weather Wise: Snow Farming
Posted at 4:44 PM, Nov 20, 2023

HELENA — The mountains are a little low in snow right now, and at the moment Montana's ski areas are not as good of a shape as they have been in recent years. Many mountains can turn to snowmaking as an early season shot in the arm but not all.

Showdown Montana in the Little Belt Mountains does not have snowmaking equipment.

"We don't have snowmaking because it costs money and we try to keep the price of skiing low," said Will with Showdown’s Mountain Operations.

But currently, Showdown is looking pretty good and mountain staff is aiming at opening soon. Some early-season storms put a blanket of snow down, but mountain operation crews have "farmed" the snow. By driving snowcats over some of the runs, the snow gets packed down to create a base that will melt at a slower rate than unpacked snow if temperatures warm up above the freezing point. snow is also removed and transported from other areas.

"We also truck in snow from the parking lot for our base area," explained Will.

Some Montanans farm wheat and sugarbeets, and others farm snow. Mother Nature should help out over the next few weeks, but stay tuned for updates to opening day at Showdown Montana and other Montana ski areas.