With climate change reducing snowfall, ski resorts preserve snow to ensure they can open on time. This “snow farming” stores snow from the end of one season to help start the next.
The stored snow provides a base layer, so resorts rely less on snowmaking machines or natural snowfall. It is the latest creative strategy as the ski industry adapts to increasing weather variability.
At Levi ski resort in northern Finland, nine storage areas hold 200,000 cubic meters of snow farmed from the previous season. The snow mounds sit under 70mm-thick insulating mats made of construction industry foam.
Waterproof sheets add further protection. This ensures high-quality snow for spreading in October to start the new season.
Levi’s snow farming began on a small scale in 2016 after repeated weather cancellations of opening World Cup races. Its success has expanded snow farming across Levi’s terrain, including the new Levi Glacier run.
The preserved snow supplements broader snow production and trail management. As Levi pursues net zero emissions by 2050, snow farming slashes the energy and water once needed for snow guns in marginal conditions.
Snow farming enables Levi to open lifts in early October before natural snowfall.
Commercial Director Marko Mustonen explains that the certainty provided is crucial for revenue: “When we get the first lift opened, we get people here, and we are alive.”
The ski resort space is highly competitive. Early and guaranteed openings attract visitor bookings other resorts may miss without stockpiled snow.
The snow under the insulation survives remarkably well. Monitoring shows under 13% summer melt loss in northern Finland – much less than expected. Insulation technology continues improving preservation.
The compacted snowfarmed product performs excellently for skiing. Racers report identical skiability to fresh snow if not better consistency.