Skiiing and Snowboarding

Snowmaking

 

Once snowmaking weather is favorable, we will start making snow on the slopes in the following order:

Snow making equipment

1. Castle Run, Cub Way and Ski School

2. Mogul Ridge and Upper Bear Run

3. Lower Bear Run and Ober Chute

4. Alpine Way

5. Grizzly 

Note: We will not start making snow on the next slopes until we have a substantial base built up on the current open slopes, and have favorable weather forecasted.

Cold Temperatures
32 degrees is the temperature at which water crystallizes, but in most cases, it's not cold enough for efficient and productive snowmaking. Generally, temperatures must drop below 28 degrees Fahrenheit before snowmaking can begin. We will make snow at temperatures at or below 28 degrees "wet bulb" but we prefer lower temperatures. Wet Bulb is a temperature measurement that takes into account both the ambient air temperature and the relative humidity, another key snowmaking factor.

Humidity
Humidity plays a major role in determining when snowmaking can begin. At higher humidity levels, the process is hampered, because the air is already saturated with water molecules. The drier the air, the better the snowmaking conditions and the higher the quality of snow that can be produced. Low humidity, combined with cold air, allow our snowguns to shoot out beautiful, fluffy white snow! The degree of humidity is so critical, in fact, that when the temperature approaches 30 degrees, it is the humidity level, not the temperature, that dictates whether or not we can continue to make snow!

Our Snowmaking Crew - 24 Hours A Day
Throughout the winter months, our snowmakers are on standby, waiting for cold temperatures. When the weather looks right, they gear up and head out onto the mountain to make snow. Snowmaking is often a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week enterprise when it's cold. Many times they miss Christmas and other holidays as they are out on the hill making snow. It's a cold, wet job, but our snowmakers love manipulating high pressure nozzles and hoses to assure guests the finest slope conditions.

Snow making equipmentIt often becomes necessary to make snow during skiing/snowboarding sessions. Here are a few tips for skiing/snowboarding during snowmaking:

Dress properly for the weather. Generally it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below during snowmaking operation.

  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes from precipitation (natural or machine made) and sunlight.
  • A scarf or some other form of face protection may be helpful.
  • Avoid skiing/snowboarding too close to the snow guns.
    The snow farther away from the snow gun is often better.
  • Ski/snowboard with caution whenever visibility becomes poor.
  • Always check out the Slope Report before coming to check on snow making status

Temperature Inversion
To invert something is to turn it upside down from its normal condition. When we talk about temperature inversion, we are speaking about an atmospheric condition that is upside down from the way things normally are.

In a "normal" atmosphere, the temperature decreases the farther up you go from earth's surface. The sun heats the ground during the day, creating a warm layer of air near the ground. As the warm air rises, it cools. Sometimes, a layer of air is so cold and dense that it resists the warming effect of the sun and hugs the ground while less dense air above it warms at a faster rate.

Temperature inversions are common in cities located in mountain valleys or nestled up against a mountain range. Cold air sinks to the valley floor or base of the mountains and becomes trapped there, a process known as "cold air damming". This is the most common type of inversion that occurs at Ober Gatlinburg. The result is a valley temperature that can be below freezing while temps on the mountain are well above freezing. Needless to say, snowmaking is almost impossible during a temperature inversion. This is why we attempt to make snow at every opportunity when temperatures permit.