QUEENSBURY — The calendar may not say winter, but the temperatures and ski mountains across the region are embracing the current cold snap.
Snowmaking operations got underway Friday at West Mountain Ski Center in Queensbury, the earliest known date at the center, according to co-owner/operator Spencer Montgomery.
On Friday, Montgomery said he dug through the record books and asked locals if anyone could remember snowmaking starting this early.
The overwhelming answer was ‘no.’
Snowmakers Kyle Shewell and Dylan Pasco were hard at work Friday to fire up the large high-powered snow guns and a pair of tower guns.
A number of towers are new to the snowmaking fleet with the addition of a high-pressure water line last season.
“The ideal temperature for making snow is anything below 20 degrees, but a happy medium is 20 to 15 degrees so that everything does not freeze,” Shewell said.
If you want to be a snowmaker, a little math is involved.
Snowmakers must calculate the humidity and the air temperature they call the wet bulb.
Shewell, who has 10 years of experience at West Mountain, said the less humidity the better when it comes to snowmaking. Typically, cloudy skies keep more humidity in the air.
“If you have full-fledged cloud cover, it is basically throwing water into a bush,” Shewell said.
Friday’s conditions were perfect with blue skies, but the wind did cause some havoc for Shewell and Pasco as they adjusted the snow-throwing guns.
Snowmaking is scheduled to continue around the clock throughout the weekend and into next week, as long as conditions persist.
The large snow fans can produce up to 1,000 gallons per minute, while the new towers process up to 500 gallons per minute.
Snowmakers will adjust as conditions change.
Last year, the mountain opened to skiers and riders on Dec. 16.
The state-run ski mountains in the Adirondacks got snowmaking operations underway earlier this week.
Gore Mountain in Johnsburg started making snow on Thursday below the Adirondack Express II. No formal opening day has been announced, but it typically falls around Thanksgiving.
Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington fired up snow guns Tuesday, and on Thursday night it got some natural snow to help the process. A Nov. 24 opening day is anticipated.
If you can’t wait to hit the slopes, several mountains in Vermont are opening Saturday. Okemo and Mount Snow are planning opening days and Killington Resort was the first to open to the public on Thursday.
If you are not quite ready to hit the slopes, West Mountain’s Ski Swap is Saturday.
The consignment sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main lodge.
Gently used skis, snowboards, boots, poles, helmets and other soft goods will be available for sale.
All proceeds from the sale benefit the West Mountain School, a nonprofit, with safety equipment, supplies and scholarships.
West Mountain Sports tuning shop will also open for the season to coincide with the annual sale.