Hunter Mountain, New York -- As the dark, dreary days of winter set in, a crisp breeze in the passing air is often all it takes for most East Coast skiers to jump-start plans, grab their boots and skis and head out to the nearest mountain.
But midwinter skiing conditions in the Northeast can range from gloriously-heavy snowfalls to dangerous sheets of bulletproof blue ice or spotty snow dotted with patches of visible grass.
And nowhere has that uncertainty been more common in decades past than at Hunter Mountain, nestled in the northern Catskills of Greene County, New York –- about 3 hours north of New York City.
Explore Hunter's winter wonderland in this interactive, 360-degree video:
While western U.S. states like Colorado can get as much as hundreds of inches of natural snowfall each year, ski-friendly East Coast states like Vermont and New York have traditionally been a more hit-or-miss affair.
Hunter Mountain opened for the first time in 1960, and in 1989 became the first ski area in the U.S. to install automated snow-making.
Today, as long as temperatures are cold enough, Hunter is capable of covering 100% of the ski terrain without a drop of natural snow.
The earliest iteration of artificial snow-making involved pulverizing large chunks of ice and distributing the frozen chips where needed. As technology advanced, snow guns were developed to atomize the water and spray droplets into the air. These droplets freeze and coat the ground, creating snow.