In this Jan. 5, 2016 photo, Blair Bullock walks by his home after he used a homemade snow machine to cover his front yard with snow, in Bristol, Va. The snow, which began "falling" Monday night and continued into Tuesday morning, is the manmade variety thanks to a snow gun - a combination of pipe, valves and an oscillating electric motor - engineered and built by Bullock. (David Crigger/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

In this Jan. 5, 2016 photo, Blair Bullock walks by his home after he used a homemade snow machine to cover his front yard with snow, in Bristol, Va. The snow, which began "falling" Monday night and continued into Tuesday morning, is the manmade variety thanks to a snow gun - a combination of pipe, valves and an oscillating electric motor - engineered and built by Bullock. (David Crigger/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Virginia man takes snowmaking into his own hands

BRISTOL, Va. — A winter wonderland of up to 9 inches of snow blankets Blair Bullock’s Meadow Drive yard recently — even though official records reflect no measurable precipitation in the region.

The snow, which began “falling” Monday night and continued into Tuesday morning, is the manmade variety thanks to a snow gun — a combination of pipe, valves and an oscillating electric motor — engineered and built by Bullock.

His snowmaking formula combines water flowing at four gallons per minute from a pressure washer with highly pressurized air from an air compressor. Mix in sub-freezing ambient temperatures and you have the recipe for a localized blizzard.

“We got tired of waiting on Mother Nature,” Bullock said Tuesday while surveying his handiwork. “To make snow, ideally is 21-degree weather and when I started last night it was 23 degrees and it quickly went down.”

He completed the 13-hour process around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“I didn’t go to bed. I had to refuel every two hours and move the gun every two hours. I had somebody helping me. You can’t shut it down or it will freeze up so you have to leave it running,” Bullock said. “This is the third time I’ve used it, but this is by far the best results.”

He originally intended to create snow for Christmas.

“I built that this year to hopefully give my daughter a white Christmas when she came home from college, but the temperatures were too warm so that didn’t happen. My brother’s kids were in from Charlotte so they don’t see snow and I wanted to let them sleigh ride a little,” he said.

Bullock, who says he likes “tinkering with stuff,” admitted this was his second attempt at manufacturing snow.

“I built a smaller gun in the mid-90s to make snow for my daughter. I’ve got a couple of high psi pressure washers and thought I could make snow. But, it turns out, you’ve got to have compressed air with that,” Bullock said. “I studied about it and figured out how to build a gun and built it. You have to swap the nozzles out to make it fit the equipment; I did that. I built all of it except for the oscillator.”

With warming temperatures and some rain in the forecast, Bullock is uncertain what his forecast will be.

“We’ll see how long it lasts,” he said with a wry smile. “We’ve got good temperatures to make snow tonight.”

More in Life

This artwork, as well as the story that accompanied it in the October 1953 issue of Master Detective magazine, sensationalized and fictionalized an actual murder in Anchorage in 1919. The terrified woman in the image is supposed to represent Marie Lavor.
A nexus of lives and lies: The William Dempsey story — Part 1

William Dempsey and two other men slipped away from the rest of the prison road gang on fog-enshrouded McNeil Island, Washington, on Jan. 30, 1940

File
Minister’s Message: Reorienting yourself to pray throughout the day

No doubt, one of the most remarkable gifts God gives to communicate with his creation is the gift of prayer

The Christ Lutheran Church is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Musicians bring ‘golden age of guitar’ to Performing Arts Society

Armin Abdihodžic and Thomas Tallant to play concert Saturday

Storm Reid plays June Allen in “Missing,” a screenlife film that takes place entirely on the screens of multiple devices, including a laptop and an iPhone. (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures)
On The Screen: ‘Missing’ is twisty, modern, great

I knew “Missing” was something special early on

Puff pastry desserts are sprinkled with sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Puff pastry made simple

I often shop at thrift stores. Mostly for cost, but also out… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Would I do it again?

I ran across some 20-some year-old journal notes rambling on about a 268-foot dive I took

A copy of Prince Harry’s “Spare” sits on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Prince Harry gets candid about ‘gilded cage’ in new memoir

“Spare” undoubtedly succeeds in humanizing Harry

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate swings into the year with ‘Tarzan’, Dr. Seuss and fishy parody

The next local showing of the Triumvirate Theatre is fast approaching with a Feb. 10 premiere of “Seussical”

This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale / Peninsula Clarion)
Meditating on the new year with kimchi mandu

Artfully folding dumplings evokes the peace and thoughtful calm of the Year of the Rabbit

Most Read