Tis the Season…For Snow Pumps!

As the days get shorter and the winds turn chilly, companies that need to transport products and equipment in remote northern areas need to prepare for winter. Part of that effort includes being ready to create a path across snowy terrain and frozen creeks, rivers or lakes. This is typically done by making ice bridges or ice roads.

“An ice road is a roadway built entirely on water—across a lake, say, or along the length of a river. A winter road, by contrast, is a snow-packed wilderness road that runs overland, possibly with some frozen lake crossings mixed in. And an ice bridge, or ice crossing, connects two sections of paved (or gravel) highway divided by a river; typically, these crossings are serviced by ferries in summer and by an ice bridge in winter.”

— Pacific Standard Magazine “How to Build an Ice Road”

Ice roads and bridges are important for the oil & gas and logging industries as well for transport and military organizations operating in cold climates.  They facilitate winter transportation to isolated areas where there is little permanent road access and where movement of large or heavy objects by air freight is impractical or prohibitively expensive. Successfully building an ice road or a bridge can be accomplished by applying proven techniques and through use of specialized equipment including snow pumps and cannons.


How is an ice bridge constructed?


A professional snow pump is used to pump water into special snow-making nozzles that mix compressed air and water. This creates a snow pile which is then plowed across a creek or stream to make an ice bridge.

It is important to follow industry guidelines and check with your local government agencies regarding any permits that may be required prior to construction.

Here are some tips from The University of Minnesota for ice bridge construction:

  • Choose a period with night temperatures below 0° F.
  • Choose a site that has low flow, is completely frozen or dry, or has a layer of ice on top of the flowing water. Approaches should be level or nearly level.
  • Push snow that is free of dirt and debris into the channel and pack it down. Add water to ice the structure. Don’t add brush or other vegetation to the ice bridge. This will weaken the structure. It can also dam the stream when the bridge melts.
  • Let the surface freeze, then repeat the process until the crossing reaches the desired thickness and width. The bridge should be thick enough to permit a level approach. The ice also must be thick enough to support the weight and speed of anticipated traffic (see Table 1).


Choosing the Right Equipment


When considering which snow pump to use for construction of your ice bridge, high quality and reliability of the pump are a must. “These pumps are used in remote areas in extreme weather conditions so you want a pump that is reliable and won’t have a malfunction at the worst possible time. These bridges are often access ways to work sites and lost access is lost time and money,” according to Gary Da Silva,  WATERAX product manager.

Snow pumps should be dependable in harsh conditions, powerful, portable and easy to use and service. For instance, a detachable pump end allows the operator to easily swap out the pump end for a new one within seconds, minimizing downtime and greatly simplifying maintenance. A pump with sealed bearings means it doesn’t need to be greased, which also makes operations easier in cold weather. Pumps featuring aluminum alloy pump components and anodized parts provide lighter weight and greater resistance to corrosion.




The WATERAX ULTRASNOW Pump brings the best engineering and technology from WATERAX, a leader in pumps for fire and snowmaking applications, to enable you to effectively tackle winter transportation challenges in remote areas.  It features a three-stage detachable pump end for superior performance and easy maintenance. It is powered by a Honda GX390 engine that boasts powerful performance, low fuel consumption, and low emissions. The ULTRASNOW can be used by itself, in tandem or in parallel with other WATERAX pumps. You can rely on the ULTRASNOW pump to get the job done reliably and effectively.

For more details and technical specifications on the WATERAX ULTRASNOW Pump, click here.

Interested in a quote or ready to order? Visit the Snowmaking section in the WATERAX online store now!

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