Snow mounds 20 feet tall at Ober Gatlinburg made from new snow machines. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ober Gatlinburg is getting ready for a winter full of snow, and have started making snow earlier than ever thanks to a new snow machine. The SnowMagic Infinite Crystals Snowmaking system can make up to 50 tons of snow in 24 hours.
"It's just like shaved ice," said Ober Gatlinburg's Winter Sports Manager John Cossaboom. "That's what's so great about it, these machines have not shut down since the 21st. Eventually these two piles will be merged together into one large one, we'll push them out with our grooming tractor and get set up for tubing."
Cossaboom is excited about the season ahead, especially after last years above warm winter. Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee's only ski slope, struggled to keep snow on the ground. This year Cossaboom says the new system will build a nice foundation for them to start the season sooner and stay open longer.
"It was not the best season we could have had. Certainly the early signs that we're seeing shows that we're going to have a cold and snowy winter this year. Sorry gang you're going to have to crank up the heat," said Cossaboom.
This year tubing will start around Thanksgiving and run through Easter. It will take around 45 days to get enough snow in the tubing area to build the slopes.
SnowMagic has installed these types of snow making equipment all over the world. Ober Gatlinburg is the first in the Southeast to use the technology.
"We say sometimes we take the mountain to the masses," said Neil Harris with SnowMagic. "We actually manufacture the ice inside the unit through our patented distribution system. We're able to bring it out onto the slope at a distance of 500-800 feet from the machine."
Harris says his company has been using this technology for 10 years and has made snow in 104 degrees. He says the system uses no chemicals and is environmentally safe.
Ober Gatlinburg has been open for 50 years and will open for tubing on November 16th with skiing opening in mid December as normal.