1. The snow gun is attached to two different hoses that run to air and water hydrant stations. One pumps in water from an artificial lake, and the other pumps in high-pressure air from an air compressor. Approximately 870 million litres of water will be used to make snow for skiing and snowboarding competitions.
2. In order to form a flake, a water droplet needs a particle that the water can adhere to. The gun makes its own particles by expelling water and pressurized air through fine nozzles. As the air expands, it cools rapidly, and the water instantly freezes into tiny crystals of ice.
3. These crystals serve as seeds for a fine mist of water droplets produced by another set of nozzles, and a powerful fan blows this mixture over the ski slope. As they fall to the ground, the droplets lose heat through evaporation and become snow.
4. What snowmakers call ‘hang time’ lasts just a few seconds, so there isn’t enough time for snow to grow elaborate branches.
5. The process happens so quickly that often only the outside freezes, so the new snow is left sitting to freeze.
Sources: HowStuffWorks, The New York Times