How to Make Snow in Your Own Backyard
The cold air is bad enough, but when there's no snow, it just feels worse! If we can't get any snow from Mother Nature, you can make it yourself in your own backyard (if the conditions are right). Here's how:
To make snow, you'll need a few things:
- Air Compressor
- Water Source such as a garden hose
- Pressure Washer
- Various Pipes/Nozzles
- Patience and Good Weather Conditions
Now you can't just break out the hose and shoot water into the air. That'll simply give you an icy backyard (and disappointed kids). The key is compressing the air and water, and then decompressing it inside the pipes. This creates super cooled water.
Here's what you'll need pipe fitting wise. This snow gun design comes from Snowguns.com. You can find all of the pipes and fittings you need at a local hardware store.
Here is how to assemble everything together.
If you're not up for building the snow guns yourself, there are several designs available for sale online. Just search "How to Make a Snow Gun" on Google and you'll find several websites with how to information and options to purchase a gun. There's a bunch of great YouTube videos too which describe how to assemble everything. People have come up with several other designs over the years. This is just one of many. If you have your own design, share it with us!
A few years ago I met a man in Bristol, VA who tried to make snow. His entire front yard was converted into a Winter Wonderland! View the story here.
So what are the best nights for making snow? Read below and find out what you should look for in the forecast.
The meteorology behind the snow making comes down to humidity and temperature. To get snow from nature, we need moisture. To make snow in your backyard, you actually want some dry air. When you have cold air and low humidity, your 'wet bulb temperature' is lower - which is conducive to making snow. The wet bulb temperature is the temperature that air can cool down to when water is evaporating in it. Let's explain.
First off, evaporation is a cooling process. When you step out of the pool, the water droplets on your body are evaporating and making you feel colder - right? Well, this is the same thing.
Snow-makers don't just automatically shoot out snow. They shoot out water. So, you're shooting all this water into dry air. The water evaporates, and the air cools down to the wet bulb temperature. In our example, this is 25°.
For the best nights of snow making, you should look for a wet bulb temperature in the low 20s.
Here's a few more tips. Watch how the wind blows the mist out of the nozzle. If it blows back on the nozzle, it may freeze creating ice on the nozzle. Keep your water lines short too. This will prevent freeze ups.
Since man made snow is more dense than nature made snow, there's a good chance any snow you make will stick around for quite some time as long as the weather stays cold.
If you give it a shot, let us know! Send us some pictures or videos and we may use the pictures on air or share it on our Facebook pages.
- Meteorologist Ricky Matthews
Thanks to Meteorologist Brad Panovich in Charlotte for the blog idea.