Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Operation Flurry - YOU Can Make It Snow

I discovered SNOWatHOME about a year ago.  Needless to say, I was sold on it the second I looked at their website and was like a kid in a candy store.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was something I had to do.  I began to explore plans to make my own snow machine last winter, but as we know, mother nature didn't give us many nights with the required cold temperatures.

I picked up again on my snow making pursuits last summer. It's fairly simple to build your own.  All it takes is a simple trip down to the hardware store and I bought all my material at Fuller and Son.  However, you will need to buy the internal nozzle kit as SNOWatHOME suggests with their free plans available on their website.  That's $60.  Total cost is about $100 and it was a fun project.  I have not had a chance to test it out yet, but will with the next batch of cold air.  There are limitations to making your own.  You have to be extremely careful to always have your air compressor running.  If water backs into the line, you can ruin it.  The internal mixer homemade snow maker requires your constant attention when it's on.

Through the process, I talked to SNOWatHOME owner Matt Pittman.  GREAT GUY!  He wanted to make sure the project was a success and gave me so many helpful pieces of advice.  What really stood out was the need for the right air compressor and it's not easy to find.  There are very few on the market which will work.  Most on the market are not oil lubricated and are not rated for continuous use.  You MUST have an air compressor which is oil lubricated.  It's going to be running for hours and hours.  The air compressor must run constantly at a minimum of 50psi.  The higher, the better.  I'm using an Ingersoll-Rand and it runs around 60psi continuously.

Next, you will need a good pressure washer, but these are easy to find.  I'm using a 1.3 GPM, 1600 psi from Fuller and Son.  They run about $130.  When you find that night with cold, dry air the air compressor and pressure washer will power your snow maker.

If you're not into making your own snow machine.  The SNOPRO is a great starter choice.  Once you have bought all the components or bought the package from SNOWatHOME, it's going to cost you between $900-$1000.  Yes, it's pricey.  However, if taken care of, it should last for many winters.  Matt told me to keep all of the equipment inside when not using.  You do NOT want ice forming in the lines.  The night I launched the project, I had it all sitting by my back door.   For some reason, I didn't even think to bring the garden hose out of the cold.  At 3AM last Friday morning, I cranked everything up, but only a few drops of water trickled out of the pressure washer.  I started to panic.  I then realized there was probably ice in the garden hose.  I ran to my front yard and grabbed a garden hose which I new was dry and had not been used in a long time.  I hooked that up and I had a fantastic water flow and all was good.   Let that be a lesson to you!  Keep everything inside on those cold nights, even the hose and place an insulator over the faucet for good measure as well!

Why 29° and not the freezing point of 32° to make snow?  I have been getting that question quite a bit.  At 32, you will only get slush at best with very little freezing.  Even at 29°, it will be a wet snow, but it's great for snowball making.  The colder and drier the air becomes, the better!  The best air mass is one from the arctic and we got those from time to time here in Arkansas.  Last winter (2016) we had 12 snow making days and that was a mild winter!  So this winter, I expect to have a few more than that.  Making snow in Arkansas does require overnight operation of the equipment so make sure you tell your neighbors about the sounds coming from your backyard.  I told mine, but they never heard it last Friday morning.  The compressor makes noise, but it's not horrible.  I would even say it's quieter than a lawn mower.

The first 1-2'' of snow was heavy and wet with the temperature around 29°.  Perfect for snowball making.  Then the temperature dropped in west Little Rock last Friday morning to about 26° and it became lighter and fluffy.  Over the course of 4 hours, I had 7'' of snow in the center of my pile.  That pile covered a fairly large area of my backward.  The kids came out by 6:30AM and we had a great snowball fight.   The snow didn't melt that weekend so the kiddos were playing in it Saturday and even Sunday.  The lower 70s on Monday finally zapped what was left on the ground.  Never fear, I will make more! LOL

BIG thanks to SnowAtHome.com and Fuller and Son Hardware for making it happen this Friday morning on Channel 7 Daybreak.  Jeff Fuller is a great guy who helped me find the right snowmaking equipment and his employees are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  If you want to win the whole SNOWPRO package, go sign up and enter to win at any of their 6 central Arkansas locations.  He also has a ton of sleds the kiddos will love when you make snow or get it from Mother Nature.

30 minutes into "Operation Flurry", you can see the wet snow accumulating on the grass.  The temperature was around 29°, but fell to 26° later and the snow became lighter and fluffy.
With the "Cousin Eddie" hat on, I measured about 7'' about 10 feet in front of the SNOWPRO.  Look at those flakes coming down.  FUN! 
Only backyard in Arkansas with snow last Friday morning.  Kids had a great snowball fight.

2 days later, I still had a nice pile of snow.

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