This Snowmaker Eats Spring Thaws For Breakfast

If children dream of a white Christmas, skiers carry around visions of a white Easter. Unfortunately, the weather doesn't always cooperate. But thanks to an Australian inventor, the ski slopes may soon stay white a lot longer.

John Melbourne, the founder of J. S. Melbourne Controls Ltd., has invented a snow machine that can produce dry snow at much higher temperatures than current snowmakers, which operate only in below-freezing weather. Melbourne has tested a prototype of his new machine at a ski resort at Mt. Buller in Australia's Victorian alps.

The machine converted 30 gallons of water per minute into dry powder snow, even at 40F--a feat Melbourne was told was impossible when he started. In the conversion process, the machine uses a vacuum to suck in cold air. A conventional system uses fans to draw in hot air. And the new device answers a major complaint against conventional machines: It doesn't make as much noise.