My post on snow conditions concentrated on the variances in conditions on mountain, including officially reported conditions, amount of snowfall, base depth, etc. Slightly different, albeit related, snow quality has a major effect on both the ability to ski various types of terrain after major snowfalls as well as surface conditions. What determines snow quality? Answer – ice content.
The measurement of snow quality is important for several reasons. For example, in avalanche prevention, it is important to measure the quality of the snow so that appropriate steps can be taken if a dangerous situation develops. One of the more important instances where the measurement of snow quality is necessary is in the making of artificial snow.
Keystone Resort now has automated snow guns on five major trails which represent the latest in snowmaking technology, and snow quality can actually be improved by adjusting guns to the weather. Not only snow quality is improved, but they are more energy efficient. Each of these automated guns uses 50% less electricity and water than the guns they replaced, and the system-wide upgrades save over 3,000,000 kWh in an average snowmaking year.
Each year, readers of Ski Magazine submit their votes for various categories that make up the “Top 10 Resorts”. Snow quality is so important, there’s a category for this also. Powder Mountain in Utah got the #1 vote in 2006, and to see all 10 go to the Skinet website.
The Weather Channel also has a map of the States detailing a Snow Quality Forecast, ranging from Powder to Slushy but only in areas where new snowfall is expected.