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[EN IMAGES] Ski centers are restarting snow cannons to save their season

[EN IMAGES] Ski centers are restarting snow cannons to save their season

Ski resorts fired their snow cannons into full gear Thursday to salvage what remained of an unseasonably warm ski season on the eve of spring break.

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“With the historically mild weather we have had in the last few days, we want to optimize the sliding conditions so that they are ideal,” says Martin Hardy, COO of Sommet Saint-Sauveur for nearly 25 years.

On Thursday, it restarted more than 80 snow cannons that produce 4,000 gallons per minute, the equivalent of one residential water heater per cannon.

Aboard his bomber, he destroyed freshly formed snow on two of the resort's 14 runways. Within 36 hours, there will be another 30cm on the ground.

QMI Photography Agency, Joel Lemay


Martin Hardy, COO of Summit Saint-Sauveur.

QMI Photography Agency, Joel Lemay

Late in the season

In his quarter-century of snowmaking, Mr. Hardy has only turned the cannons back on twice late in the season: this year and last year, both of which saw significant temperature changes.


Snow cannons operate automatically from the “snow factory” computer.

QMI Photography Agency, Joel Lemay

“It has happened maybe three or four times in 30 years that we have had to restart the machines in March,” confirms Christian Dufour, marketing director of Les Sommets, which has five ski resorts in the Laurentians and the Outaouais.

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He adds: “Today, it is not necessary to cover, but rather to cool after the frost we witnessed.”

Not to mention, temperatures below -3 degrees Celsius are necessary to produce reserves for the season that lasts until May.


Christian Dufour, Marketing Director at Les Sommets, is happy to invest in this technology to offer snow-covered slopes until May.

QMI Photography Agency, Joel Lemay

“We are usually able to store our supplies from November to January, but the weather has not been cold enough,” explains Evelyn Derry, a communications consultant at Mont Bromont in Estrie.

If 60 of the 141 slopes remain skiable, it is thanks to the snow cannons.

40% more fake snow than ten years ago

At Mont Saint Bruno, in Montérégie, we have for years preferred to replenish snow week after week rather than storing it at the beginning of winter.

“We produce 40% more snow than ten years ago. Even if the snow we make is harder than natural snow, it ends up melting as the snow melts. “We can no longer really rely on natural snow cover,” explains Martin Couture, owner Ski Saint-Bruno.

He acknowledges that climate change is creating additional economic and energy pressures on the plant. But, according to him, the game is worth it.

“Ice is our product,” he says.