KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennesseans and visitors to the Smoky Mountains looking to hit the slopes will have to wait a little longer. Ober Gatlinburg announced Friday it is delaying production of snow for its skiing and snowboarding slopes.
The ski area said temperature inversion is the main culprit.
“We take great pride in our snowmaking capabilities and being Tennessee’s only ski area,” Ober Gatlinburg said in a social media post. “Looking past the difficulties of inversion and an unseasonably warm December, we remain vigilant and ready 24/7 to capitalize on any snowmaking opportunities.”
Temperature inversion, also known as thermal inversion, is when a layer of cool air sits below a layer of warmer air in the troposphere, the region of the atmosphere nearest Earth’s surface. Normally air temperatures decrease with height.
Temperature inversion is a relatively common occurrence because of the elevation differences in the mountains. Ober Gatlinburg sits at around 3,000 feet above sea level. Gatlinburg is at about 1,300 feet.
“There are often occasions where downtown Gatlinburg is colder than the top of Ober which of course makes it very difficult to make, keep snow there,” said WATE 6 On Your Side meteorologist Ken Weathers.
Ober Gatlinburg says snow tubing, the Ski Mountain Coaster, ice skating, carousel, rock wall, and more will still be open for guests.