How to make your own snow in Charlotte

How to make your own snow in Charlotte

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by Brad Panovich / First Warn Chief Meteorologist

Bio | Email | Follow: @wxbrad

WCNC.com

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 12:44 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 8:50 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On February 1 at about 8 p.m. in the evening it started to snow in my backyard, just in my back yard and nowhere else for miles around. How'd that happen you ask? I did it myself and it's easier than you think with supplies you just might have in your garage or shed right now. 

Step #1: 

You need a good air compressor, a decent sized one, but it doesn't have to be huge. It just has to be designed to run for long hours. Below is a good size one but there are other options as well that can be found by clicking the image below. 

Step #2:

You need a power washer--nothing too fancy. Just a simple small electric one that you would use to wash your car will work just fine. If you don't have one you can rent or borrow one just like the air compressor if you'd like. For more advanced options click the image below.

Step #3: 

This is the most important part--building the actually snow gun. It only takes about $40 worth of parts found at any local hardware store. The nozzles may be harder find but I easily ordered them online. Once you have all the parts you can now assemble the snow gun, which should only take about 15 minutes or so. The key is to make sure all your fittings are tight and the nozzles all face the same direction.

Step #4:

Setting everything up and building a stand. You can do just about anything to build a stand, usually mounting it to something that will give you air under the nozzles works best. Angle it up at about 45 degrees seems to works best.

 

Step #5: 

This is the part where weather plays a key role. Unlike a real snow storm, you don't have to wait until there is the perfect match of cold air and moisture from mother nature. You just need the cold air and it helps if its dry, too. So this is where the science part of the build comes in.

You need temperatures below 32 degrees but 28 degrees or lower is best. Plus it helps for it to be very dry--the lower the humidity the better. The dry air will actually evaporate some of the water coming out of your gun. This evaporation will cause cooling and make the air even colder. The whole key in this process is to compress the air and water in the snow gun and create a super cooled water mist coming out.

This will cause the supercooled water to freeze on contact in mid-air with the other mist coming from the other nozzles. The chart below will help for ideal conditions to make snow. You want the water freezing into tiny ice crystals in the air not on the ground.

So if you missed anything or have more questions, there are some very good resources online to help you out. The first is the website where I got these plans from. That can be found here.

The second is a great resource and community of backyard snow makers. There are great forums and fun modifications you can make to your snow gun. That resource can be found at snowguns.com. Now you do have to join that site to read and participate in the forums.

Starting smaller:

If you want to start much smaller and just use a garden hose and air compressor, here are the plans for the Tee-Gun. This was my first snow gun I made back in 2006. It works great and works really well at warmer temperatures around 32 degrees. It costs only about $20 to make and you don't need a power washer. The only drawback is it makes snow at a much slower pace but it is much easier to do. 

Have fun and please let me see your results. Send me your pictures or videos on my Facebook page.

 

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