(WBIR-Gatlinburg) Black Friday for shoppers turned into a 'White Friday' for East Tennessee's only skiing area, Ober Gatlinburg. The winter sports destination opened more than two weeks ahead of schedule this year due to recent snow and cold temperatures.
"Number one, a prolonged cold spell-- that makes it worthwhile for us to start the system up. Number two, it was colder than 28 degrees; that helped a whole lot," John Casaboom with Ober Gatlinburg said Friday.
The November 29 date is the earliest for the Sevier County skiing area since 1989.
About 16 to 20 inches of snow, natural and man-made, are on the ground right now.
"Once we're open, we're open," Casaboom added. "We'll do everything we can to keep the operation going daily."
If that snow melts from a late autumn warm spell, Ober can use their "Snow Magic" machinery. It creates 150,000 feet of snow nightly.
The early snow means a busy few weeks ahead.
"This weekend, we have summer operations, tubing operations, and skiing and snowboarding operations all happening at the same time. So that made us have to scramble around a little bit," Casaboom said.
Three of the nine slopes are currently open. The remaining trails should be open by year's end.