HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. — So far, North Carolina has experienced a winter that can't seem to make up its mind. Monday had highs in the 60s. Yet, in recent weeks the weather has brought frigid temperatures, snow and ice. The North Carolina mountains are also seeing big changes in the weather, which is making things interesting on ski slopes.
Weekday skiers at Cataloochee often slice through light snow across open runs, but Mother Nature sometimes cancels those plans.
"I refer to myself as an unsubsidized farmer," said Tony Waddell, owner of Cataloochee. "I have 90 days to get my crops in."
Waddell prepares for the unpredictable when it comes to the weather. After a busy Christmas week, temperatures soared for more than two weeks.
Skiers said the weather makes it even more difficult to ski.
"It gets icy in the warm weather because it'll be warm all day and then it'll be really cold at night and it'll be icy," said skier Tabbitha Leonard.
Waddell said that he has been able to recover after warm weather earlier this year.
"It did hurt us on our numbers a little in the first part of January, but we were able to recover for the all-important MLK weekend," Waddell said.
As with all Southern skiing, the key to survival this year has been snow making.
"We've got an extremely large snow-making system on a per acre basis," Waddell said. "It would be like having a commercial swimming pool without water in it if I did not have snow on the slopes."
After a rough ride in early January, North Carolina ski areas appear back on track. They are hoping six more weeks of winter weather will help them salvage a solid season.
North Carolina ski resort owners urge skiiers to check conditions by phone or
Despite highs in the 50s last week, Cataloochee boasts all of its runs are open.