While parts of Colorado and Nebraska have more snow than they know what to do with, most of Iowa’s snow-free with three days until Christmas. Although temperatures are unseasonably warm, many of Iowa’s ski resorts -are- open for business. Mark Dietz is general manager of Sundown Mountain in Dubuque. Dietz says there’s a science to making snow.

Dietz says temperatures are always an important factor. “We can start making decent snow at 28-degrees but really the best stuff is made below 25. We’ve got a permit with the Department of Natural Resources that allows us to pump about two-thousand gallons a minute out of the river, which we do.” He says it took about 58-hours of cold weather and seven-million gallons of water from the Mississippi River to get Sundown open, and whenever it’s cold enough, they add more snow with their giant snow guns.

Dietz says “We do need those lower temperatures. It comes back down to science. Water freezes at 32 and then we shoot that water up in the air and by the time it hits the ground it has to have time to freeze so we do have some other tricks we can play in there by injecting air and high pressure but we still need it to be below that 28-degree range before we can make any snow.”

Dietz says their runs are now 90-percent open. He says the snow base is ten to 25-inches and most of the runs are open, with the exception of a very steep pass called Gunbarrel and the half-pipe. For more information, call (563) 556-6676 or surf to “www.sundownmtn.com”.