Mother Nature prevents ski slopes from opening

Appalachian Ski Mountain in Watauga County announced its slopes will not be ready to open on Friday because of the warm temperatures.

The 75 snow-making machines are not running and the ski lifts are empty.

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“We’ll open before Thanksgiving maybe 60% to two-thirds of the time, so we’re just waiting on some good weather,” Moretz said. “It’ll come soon.”

Fred Hinze works at the resort and has been checking the forecast every morning.

“There’s really not much you can do,” Hinze said. “It’s all up to Mother Nature at this point. As soon as we can get it going, we’re definitely going to fire it up, for sure.”

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Appalachian Ski Mountain is the largest private employer in Watauga County during the winter. The company hires as many as 500 workers.

The North Carolina Ski Areas Association estimates the economic impact of the resorts in the state to top $225 million each year, which impacts area hotels and restaurants.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty asked Moretz how quickly they can open if the weather cooperates.

“We have started making snow at midnight on a Thursday and opened Saturday morning with a 25- to 30-inch base,” Moretz said.

Conditions have also been very dry but area resorts are in good shape due to huge retention ponds, which help make the manmade snow.

The owner told Faherty the one at Appalachian Ski Mountain holds several million gallons of water.

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