Make It Snow! Make It Snow! Make It Snow!
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
There were some people who were disappointed today when they woke up. They looked outside and they saw no snow. But if it's cold where you live, it may not be too late for a white Christmas. You could build your own snowmaking machine.
NPR's Nell Boyce reports on the new trend, do it yourself snow.
NELL BOYCE: Matthew Pittman runs a sign business with a friend in Connecticut.
Mr. MATTHEW PITTMAN: We fabricate just about any kind of sign you can imagine, from large pylon sign to neon signs.
BOYCE: They don't sell a lot of signs in the winter. So Pittman and his partner go skiing. About 10 years ago, they started eyeing the snowmaking equipment at their local resort.
Mr. PITTMAN: We both used to talk about it all the time and how it seemed like a simple process and how neat would it be to make snow for our kids at the house.
BOYCE: They knew the basic ingredients.
Mr. PITTMAN: High-pressure water mixed with air, compressed air, those were the main two ingredients. And somehow the right blend of the two, you made snow.
BOYCE: So they tinkered with air compressors, pressure washers and a homemade nozzle made from plumbing supplies, but no snow. Until one cold day, about two or three in the morning, they were outside of their shop.
Mr. PITTMAN: It was a familiar scene to us to be here late, turn on the snowmaker. Hear that hiss of the snowmaker coming out. And wait a minute, is that - the ground just started turning white a little bit almost instantly. And we just couldn't believe it.
BOYCE: They caught their triumph on video.
Mr. PITTMAN: We're making snow.
BOYCE: Now, getting to this point had been an obsession. Pitman thought that their first snow would calm things down.
Mr. PITTMAN: But it actually went the other way. After we achieved it, then it just turns into, well, how much snow can we make? You know, we want to know exactly how much snow we can make with the resources available at a home.
BOYCE: The answer is that your average home can make plenty. There's enough water to easily cover a yard. Pitman and his partner now have a company, SNOWatHOME. They sell machines, kits and parts, and they also give away free plans so you can build your own for a few hundred bucks or less.
You can find more designs at a Web site called snowguns.com. That's were other do it yourself snowmakers share notes on their inventions. One of them is Drew Huber(ph). He works for a luxury car dealership in Montgomery, Alabama. A few years ago, he decided to give his family a white Christmas.
Mr. DREW HUBER: Started at Christmas Eve, had the entire front yard with about four, five inches of snow.
BOYCE: And what did the house next door look like?
Mr. HUBER: Not a flake of snow in their yard.
BOYCE: This is, after all, Alabama. December yards are bare and brown. Huber's snow attracted all kinds of people.
Mr. HUBER: Kids just couldn't believe it like, questions of, you know, how come it snowed in your yard and not ours? And some of them have never seen snow and several of them, you know, have been years and years that they haven't seen snow.
BOYCE: Huber says home snowmaking work best when the temperature drops to 27 degrees and there's low humidity. So this winter's warm weather has been painful for hundreds of home snowmakers.
Mr. HUBER: And folks are disappointed that they're not going to have a white Christmas this year in the areas that rely on our little assistance.
BOYCE: There's nothing you all can do about that? You guys haven't made like a temperature changing machine?
Mr. HUBER: Haven't gotten that far yet.
BOYCE: But probably someone out there is in the basement trying.
Nell Boyce, NPR News.