TALLAHASSEE — In the only state that had no snow on the ground earlier this week, Kenny and Christy Fulater wanted to give their 5-year-old the gift of a snowstorm.
They had tried for their daughter Callie's birthday in December. Kenny Fulater fashioned a device that combines a pressure washer, 80-gallon air compressor and paint spray nozzles to create the powder.
But temperatures never dipped low enough.
Sunday's freeze created the perfect opportunity to try out his homemade snow-making machine. Held together by zip ties and placed at the top of a ladder, the contraption pumped out 7 inches of snow to coat his back yard, delighting friends and neighbors.
"He was doing it to give our daughter something cool, but it ended up being a bunch of our friends who came over as well," Christy Fulater said.
Kenny Fulater detailed the process of making a makeshift snowfall. His method essentially follows the same principle that ski resorts use to make phony powder.
"Compressing the air in with the water makes it, if the temperature is right, able to freeze really quickly," he said. His machine requires the temperature to get below 28 degrees.
Although 22 degrees is ideal to "make dry, powdery snow," he said the 26-degree weather early Sunday allowed him to create plenty of it.
Kenny Fulater started running his snow machine around 11 p.m. ET Saturday when the temperature was about 32 degrees but said it created most of the snow between 4 and 9 a.m. when temperatures dropped to 26. That was about the equivalent of a half inch of rainfall, according to NASA.
"I was kind of impressed with how much it made," he said. "I didn’t expect it was going to make nearly that much."
The machine made so much snow, Callie was able to build a 3-foot tall snowman with her mom and dad.
Kenny Fulater found the free instructions at a website called www.SnowAtHome.com and was able to make the snow machine from scratch using supplies from his custom woodworking business and a quick trip to Home Depot. The site also sells backyard snow machines.
This was not the first time Callie had witnessed snowfall. Her previous birthday was spent in North Carolina during a flurry — but Christy said her daughter prefers snow when it is on demand.
"She told me yesterday she liked this snow better because she could make it go away," Christy Fulater said. Monday's high here was 57 degrees. "She likes Florida snow."
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