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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2007
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J.J Koerber, 12, sleds on the snow mountain her father, Bob Koerber, made with his snow machine in front of their home southwest of Hartselle. With the cold weather the Tennessee Valley experienced last week, he has had no problem making snow.
Daily photos by Gary Lloyd
J.J Koerber, 12, sleds on the snow mountain her father, Bob Koerber, made with his snow machine in front of their home southwest of Hartselle. With the cold weather the Tennessee Valley experienced last week, he has had no problem making snow.

Man-made wonderland
Morgan man turns front yard
into snow playground for children

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

HARTSELLE — Bob Koerber figured that if God wasn't going to bring snow to Lee Road, he would make it himself. He wanted his children to enjoy the snow as he did while living near Mount St. Helens in Washington State.

His wife, Debbie, got the idea to build a snowmaking machine while listening to the "Rick and Bubba Show," a popular radio program based in Birmingham.

"I called him and said, 'I want snow,' " Debbie said.

Bob, an electronic design engineer, looked for plans on the Internet. He built the machine with a pressure washer, an air compressor, agricultural spray nozzles and a nucleation nozzle.

"When the air hits the water, it creates a super fine mist," Bob said.

Mother Nature does the rest. With a temperature of 27 degrees or less depending on humidity, the mist instantly freezes into snow. His machine makes between 1 and 2 cubic feet of snow per minute, as long as the wind isn't blowing.

Bob built the machine last winter, but didn't get enough days that were cold enough. He's had success this year. He built two more stands with adjustable nozzles so he could get more coverage and have more control.

Now his front yard is a winter playground for his four children. He built one hill about 4-foot high in five or six nights last week and started building a second hill. If it doesn't melt before the area gets another cold spell, he plans to increase the height and length of both hills.

J.J., 12, probably has used the snow mound more than anyone, although her 15-year-old sister, Stephanie, and about a dozen friends took it over Saturday. J.J. likes using a plastic snow sled as a snowboard. She's been down the hills sitting frontward, backward and in a spin.

"It's awesome," said J.J., who wants to test her snowboarding skills one day on a real ski hill.

Their dog, Lilo, is a big fan too. He eagerly jumps on board when offered a ride.

"If Lilo isn't riding, he is running (beside the sled) and barking (at the riders)," Debbie said.

The man-made snow is also great for an old-fashioned snowball fight, particularly when it's newly made and a little wet, Debbie said.

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