01/08/14 — City might make snow

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City might make snow

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on January 8, 2014 1:46 PM

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While only using a pressure washer, plumbing, a ladder and the sub-freezing temperatures supplied by Mother Nature, Goldsboro Parks and Recreation creates artificial snow in the parking lot at Peacock Park on Tuesday afternoon. The setup was a test run for the department, which hopes to later create a winter wonderland on a larger scale while offering a chance for kids -- and adults -- to go sledding.

The cold weather this week was not unwelcome for everyone in Goldsboro.

Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Department employees took advantage of the frigid temperatures to test a homemade system to create snow, much like ski resorts do in the mountains.

Parks and Recreation employees turned the lot behind the maintenance facility in Peacock Park into a mini-winter wonderland Tuesday while testing the snow blower, made up of a ladder, water hose, an air compressor and plumbing fittings.

The system, tested on a small scale, works by spraying a mist of water into the air so it will freeze as it falls back to the ground.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard said he wants to set up the device on a large scale in a city park for sledding. The best time for the operation would be on a long weekend for youth, he noted, when students have a Friday or Monday off.

Mina Weil Park is high on the list of proposed locations for the operation.

"If conditions are right to make snow, we would love to do it on maybe Martin Luther King Jr. weekend or over Presidents Day," Barnard said. "It's just like piling up leaves for Jingle in the Park. We want to do something not structured, something for people not interested in signing up for basketball."

Barnard said that ideally a cold snap will come through on one of those weekends. He emphasized that he does not want to encourage students to cut class to play in the snow.

"The perfect storm for this would be to coincide with some real snow," Barnard said. "It would work best if we had some flurries already going because it's easier to make snow when the conditions are already right for snow."

The idea to create snow has been floating around the Parks and Recreation Department for two years, but the winters have been too mild, Barnard noted.

For the snow blowers to work on a large scale, Barnard will need to enlist the aid of the city Public Works Department and the Goldsboro Fire Department.

By using the fire department's trucks, more water can be moved and a ladder truck's height will give the water more time to crystallize into snow.

Water used for the snow will most likely come from the pool at Mina Weil Park, or a pond.

"The best snow is made with dirty water, water with particulates in it," Barnard said.

The snow crystallizes around the particulates, forming larger snowflakes which makes better snow, he pointed out.

Water pulled out of a surface water source will also make for better snow because it is colder than groundwater, making it easier to convert to snow.