GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Making snow in the Smokies is no easy feat, and Ober Gatlinburg executives have had to deal with recent temperature issues, leading them to get creative in offering visitors other fun experiences outside of skiing. A temperature inversion pattern, also known as thermal inversion, recently impacted the attraction’s ability to produce snow for its ski and snowboard runs.
Ober Gatlinburg President and Co-Owner Kent Anders spoke on Christmas Eve with WATE 6 On Your Side about the creativity behind not just snowmaking, but other activities visitors can enjoy until the slopes. can be covered in powder once the weather permits. .
“When this type of weather happens, it’s no stranger to us – we just have to get creative,” Anders said.
“I think it’s important to note that at this time of year we are a ski area and that’s what we’re here for, it’s about 50% of our annual revenue – our ski rentals and our ski support activities,” Anders said. “It is therefore essential for us that we make every effort to be open to skiing and snowboarding as soon as possible.”
With the thermal inversion occurring in the region, the weather outlook appears to continue the warming trend over the Christmas holiday weekend.
“It’s very unusual, it’s an extreme,” Anders said. “We are ready to make snow and we look at every opportunity to make snow, but at the end of the day it requires a minimum of 28 degrees, and we must have at least three to four days of this temperature to make enough of snow to open our ski slopes.
Anders said that all year round their operation depends on weather conditions and especially monitors the situation as winter approaches. Ober Gatlinburg also offers snow tubing, the Ski Mountain Coaster, ice skating, carousel, rock wall and more will always be open to guests.
Ober Gatlinburg is still able to deliver an outdoor snowy experience with its “Magic Snow” system which essentially shaves ice and pulls pipes, which has been used to deliver snow tubing outdoors.
“It’s a very slow and very expensive process, so it’s not practical to create a ski area for ski conditions,” Anders said. “We use it to open our tube slide park in mid-November. We’ve taken this product and created a really big outdoor play area…and they’re absolutely having a blast.
There were over 840 people playing in the snow tubing area the other day. Inside there is also ice skating. Outside of normal winter season activities, this is where Anders said they got creative this year.
“We got creative and brought other warm season activities to the public,” Anders said. “Things like our scenic chairlift, which takes you from the main elevation of the lodge to the highest elevation point on the property; and if you descend halfway up this panoramic lift, there is our “old but good” alpine slide. It’s been around since 1976, still remains one of our popular year-round activities, but normally it’s not available at this time of year – well, because of the weather, it is.
Anders said as soon as the weather permits and they hit that critical temperature of 28°F for a few days, that’s when the snowpack can start again.
For more information on other fun things to do in Ober Gatlinburg, check their website for ticket availability — and of course, when the temperatures drop again, when they can snow again.
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