Michigan Ski Blog – Skiing and Snowboarding in Michigan

Snowmaking at The Homestead – February Cold Blast Means Great Ski Conditions

How many gallons of water does it take to cover all the runs at The Homestead with machine-made snow? What’s the perfect combination of conditions for snowmaking? We caught up with The Homestead’s master snowmaker, Steve Sanborn, for these answers and more. Read on.

When most people think of Northern Michigan in winter, they naturally think of snow—deep, deep snow. So it may come as a surprise to learn that The Homestead has any snowmaking machines at all.

But the resort’s coastal location provides some unique challenges where snow is concerned. That’s why, years ago, The Homestead invested in top-of-the-line SMI snowmaking machines to take over when Mother Nature doesn’t exactly cooperate. Steve Sanborn is the man in charge of making those machines hum.

How has this year been on the snowmaking front? Have the snowmaking machines been quiet thanks to all the snow we’ve been having?

On the contrary, we have been quite busy. The resort’s grooming staff does an excellent job in presenting runs in a way that most skiers have no idea they are skiing over a golf course. Filling in the sand traps with snow, smoothing out the bunkers—contouring winter ski runs over land that is used as a golf course for the rest of the year requires a significant amount of snow.

How many snowmaking machines do you have? What are the ideal conditions for making snow?

We have five stationary tower guns and fourteen traditional snow guns—the barrel-shaped kind that we can move throughout the ski area. We also have twelve snow-sticks that are used for narrower runs. But none of it works without the right conditions. Basically, what you’re looking for are temperatures in the mid-teens, low humidity and minimal wind.

What are some of the unique challenges of making snow at a place like The Homestead?

Two major challenges being right next to Lake Michigan are the water and the wind. Water acts as an insulator at this time of year (until it freezes). Typically, air temperatures here at the resort are 5- to 10-degrees warmer than areas just a few more miles inland. As for the wind, the almost constantly blowing wind coming off Lake Michigan makes it difficult to keep snow on the North Face of the ski hill.

Where does the water for the snowmaking machines come from at The Homestead?

It takes approximately 12-million gallons of snow to cover all of our ski runs. We’re lucky to have a river flowing right through the property—the Crystal River, which is our primary water source. Wells at The Homestead also provide water. We take the water out, transform it into snow, and—when it all melts in the spring—the water goes right back where it came from.

What are some of the conservation measures The Homestead takes to making more efficient?

The SMI snowmaking machines we use at The Homestead are really topnotch. They’re all designed to maximize efficiency, specifically when it comes to conserving electricity used in the snowmaking process.

Any memorable tales from the snowmaking trenches?

Looking back over the years, one incident that remains most memorable is the time that our snowmaking team returned from the booster pump house on a routine operations check to find the snowmobile they road in on entirely engulfed in flames. The apparent cause was an electrical wire short, and the team brought things under control quickly; however, we were reminded that a seemingly “tame” job like snowmaking, definitely presents its own challenges to snowmakers.

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The Homestead On Facebook

Below are the latest postings from the The Homestead Page On Facebook.

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Tuesday October 17th, 2017 - 4:17 pm

The Homestead

Beach Club photo shoot...Beautiful day! Brian Walters Photography Brian Walters ... See MoreSee Less

Beach Club photo shoot...Beautiful day! Brian Walters Photography Brian Walters

Comment on Facebook

Beautiful setting 🎵👓🎵

beautiful!!

Pool still open?

Monday October 16th, 2017 - 10:59 am

The Homestead

It was a rainbow kind of morning. ... See MoreSee Less

It was a rainbow kind of morning.

Comment on Facebook

Was there this morning, so beautiful!

Friday October 13th, 2017 - 1:38 pm

The Homestead

We have some fall spa specials including Pumpkin Peel Facial, Soothe the Blues Massage and Detox Seaweed Wrap. Call 231.334.5253. ... See MoreSee Less

We have some fall spa specials including Pumpkin Peel Facial, Soothe the Blues Massage and Detox Seaweed Wrap.  Call 231.334.5253.

Friday October 6th, 2017 - 1:58 pm

The Homestead

Fall decorations, check! Enjoying the season, check! Wish you were here... ... See MoreSee Less

Fall decorations, check!  Enjoying the season, check!  Wish you were here...

Comment on Facebook

...check, we are here!

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Upcoming Events at The Homestead

Pumpkin Fest

Pumpkin Fest

Oct 21, 12:00pm - Oct 21, 4:00pm

Glen Arbor Township Park

The local community and visitors are invited to enjoy this celebration of fall, one of our favorite seasons in Leelanau.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 from 12 - 4pm is Pumpkin Fest in Glen Arbor this year at the Township Park. Fun fall family & pet-friendly activities with live music during the event. Expect peak colors for fall color tours, shopping, dining and a nice weekend to enjoy outdoor recreation.

165 interested  ·  18 going
November Business After Hours

November Business After Hours

Nov 9, 5:30pm - Nov 9, 7:30pm

Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Map

November is about celebrating family and gratitude - Let's all head to The Homestead in Glen Arbor and toast to our awesome LPCC family! Be sure to save the date - More details to follow.

31 interested  ·  3 going
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