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Ski on weekends if you must, but the statistical bulk of a ski season's best conditions are likely to happen midweek. Case in point—next week. Photo by Randy Johnson

As all you weekend skiers read the great weekend ski prognosis on SkiSoutheast.com—snap out of it and realize how much better midweek skiing is going to be next week.

by Randy Johnson

Too many Southern skiers simply forget the truth of the above headline. That hit me last night at the Pedalin’ Pig barbecue near Sugar Mountain. After some rain, snowmaking was again blanketing the slopes.

The young family gobbling ‘cue was here to ski or board so I asked, “How was skiing?” The father said, “We just got here. We’re skiing tomorrow.”

Bingo. They’re out there today, Friday. After a frigid night of snowmaking, they have super conditions and are skiing right up to an empty lift under blue skies. They’re also paying discount rates instead of top dollar. Smart people. Tomorrow, weekenders could be lock-stepping in a lift line and dodging crowds.

Let’s take a deep breath. It’s early February—and the best conditions of the ski season happen over the next six or so weeks—less than a third of that time is over a weekend! Plan now to ski midweek! Whether you warn the boss you may suddenly take a few days off when it snows, or just choose a window and go for it, try the South’s smartest ski strategy.

Ski weekends, if that’s all you can do. But with improving access roads bringing so many people closer to Southern slopes, midweek skiing is easier than ever.

Want powder? Head up just before a snowstorm is predicted, like all those smiling people a few weeks ago checking in to Canaan Valley State Park Lodge on a Thursday before the big snow. (The weekenders never got there!) Or aim for a particularly long period of great snowmaking weather.

Lift rates drop dramatically midweek (as much as 50% at Ski Beech, for instance). Similar cuts chop the price of ski lessons, a critical factor in the fun of skiing. Lodging rates drop as much as 40% during the week—and package prices can be laughably low.

So who the heck started the rumor skiing in the South wasn’t worth a few vacation days? Whoever it was, they’re wrong.

That family I met last night are realizing just how wrong.

When they told me they were skiing today, I said, “Congratulations!” Dad looked at me quizzically and asked, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” I said glancing at the kids, “your parents are smart. The snow will be perfect and you’ll have it all to yourselves.” The parents beamed as their boys cast them appreciative looks.

This article started today on Friday, but let’s end the article three days from now on Monday when three days of snowfall are predicted to start in Banner Elk.

Monday morning, some smart family, a couple of friends, or a lucky local ski writer, are gonna walk up to Sugar’s Summit Express and be the first and maybe only people “in line.”

I guarantee there will be a smile on my face. And it’ll all happen after all those weekend skiers have just gone home. Unless a few of them call in sick. Think snow.

Wintergreen Resort posted this photo that shares the opinion of all skiers and snowboarders in the region!

A “Pinch of Snow” today and BIG SNOW Next Week!

Good Friday morning all! Our FirsTrax post title this morning sounds a bit like a recipe, and that was the intention as SNOW is always the perfect ingredient for any weekend ski and snowboarding getaway.

It is snowing across Snowshoe Mountain, Timberline, Canaan Valley and Wisp resorts this morning. Check out these cameras to see it BOMBING SNOW in a few locations.

http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/snowshoe-basin/
http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/snowshoe-shavers-centre/
http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/snowshoe-boathouse/
http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/canaan-valley-resort/
http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/wisp/

Click to enlarge to see detail of snowfall at Snowshoe this morning!
Click to enlarge to see detail of snowfall at Snowshoe this morning!

As you’ll see (depending on when you view the cameras) it is snowing quite hard in some locations. That snow looks like it should continue to fall until around noon today with perhaps 1″ of total snowfall.

That will certainly setup a start to a WONDERFUL weekend to make it a ski getaway to your favorite ski area.

Meteorologist Brad Panovich is thinking that we’ll see snowmaking temps all weekend across the entire region with even colder air coming in next week. Perhaps more than a foot snow may fall. See where below!

 

2016-02-05-BradBy the way today is National Weatherman Day, so we’ll take this moment to thank our guy Brad for his great contributions to our website!

Significant snow is also expected into next week across the entire ski coverage area.

It is frigid this morning with a low of 8° at Beech Mountain and mostly 20s into Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland this morning. Brad’s report can be watched below and he’s talking about temperatures BELOW ZERO as we get into Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Brad’s Skier’s Forecast video is showing a couple of back-to-back snow storms that should create wrap-around snows that could mean significant snows for all of our ski areas Sunday, Monday and into Tuesday and Wednesday of next week! All bets are off JUST NOW in terms of just how much snow these storms might bring but some of the models are indicating that it could be a storm that brings as much as another foot (OR MORE) of snow.

Brad is also predicting POWDER conditions with a high water-to-snow ratio that should make for champagne powder conditions here in the east!

Check out the full video forecast for the Southeast and mid-Atlantic:

 

BRAND NEW STREAMING CAM FOR BANNER ELK…

The old cam was not too bad, but wait until you see the new view!
The old cam was not too bad, but wait until you see the new view!

Fans of the Hwy 184 camera in Banner Elk will be pleased to know that sometime later today our Kenny Griffin will be replacing the old, static camera with a new HD Streaming camera.

That camera has always been one of the top five most popular webcams in our arsenal via the former HighCountryWebCams.com and what is now ResortCams.com.

That location is great because not only does it offer a one-weekend great means of covering the annual Woolly Worm Festival in mid-October – it is ALSO a phenomenal road conditions camera as it shows the conditions nearest Sugar Mountain Resort and on the way up to Beech Mountain.

Kenny should be at that location as we speak and you can check out the NEW camera via this link sometime later today. http://www.resortcams.com/webcams/banner-elk/

 

Conditions Look PERFECT for an Awesome Weekend of Skiing and Snowboarding!

Great weather this weekend and then check out the forecast!
Great weather this weekend and then check out the forecast!

If you haven’t made it up to your favorite mountain yet this season, THIS is a GREAT weekend to do so. There will be snow on the ground and plenty of perfectly groomed snow on nearly every trail in the region as resorts are either 100% open or very near to it.

Snowmaking WILL be in progress at most of the ski areas so bring your goggles. There will be an exception or two to that as some ski areas will not make snow during open sessions. You can check tomorrow’s snow report and we will detail those resorts.

But the weekend looks great to combine some awesome skiing with some Super Bowl parties.

 

ONLY ONE BIT OF NEGATIVE TO THROW IN…

With the heavy, heavy, heavy traffic in the mountains for this weekend, expect some lift lines and crowded slopes. I received more than a few emails from skiers complaining about being ran into (one emailer claimed that they were hit four times in less than a half day of skiing last weekend).

In fact I received repeated emails from two disgruntled visitors of last weekend. One claimed that he’d never seen anything like the kind of crowds on the mountain last Saturday.

The truth is – there IS a lot of pent up desire to hit the mountains since November and December were so bad. Last weekend DID kind of have the “perfect storm” that created more traffic than usual for that weekend as if you will remember we had 2-4 FEET of snow prior to the weekend and visitors saw the opportunity to come up and play in perfect conditions.

It will be a busy weekend this weekend, but I don’t think we’ll see QUITE the heavy crowds that we had last weekend. Of course, I could be wrong…

Regardless, let me give you guys a little secret. Get out early. Some ski areas open at 8:30am and most at 9am. When the slopes open – get on them. “Early birds” get more top-to-bottom runs in by 10:30 or so than visitors will be able to THE REST OF THE DAY.

 

One small beef…

Last season I began to notice Sapphire Valley Ski Area reporting manmade snow in their NATURAL SNOW column on their snow report. They changed their snow report such that it doesn’t separate manmade snow from natural snow and some NATIONAL reporting services are hence reporting that manmade snow as “NEW SNOW” as if it was natural snow. In a few cases this season, we’ve seen Sapphire report “9-12” of NEW SNOW.

Kind of wish they'd be more transparent.
Kind of wish they’d be more transparent.

Now Appalachian Ski Mountain seems to have taken up the practice. Today they are reporting 2″ of NEW SNOW. The issue is that SOME NATIONAL reporting agencies are reporting that as natural snowfall when it isn’t.

Additionally most ski areas show manmade snow, some show HOW MUCH manmade snow but they also have a natural snow column on their snow report. Sapphire and now Appalachian report manmade AND natural snow in that same column so it can be misleading to potential visitors.

 

FREEBIES COMING YOUR WAY!

Kenny and I will be coordinating an effort to begin giving away a ton of lift passes and some vacations beginning next week so stay tuned as nothing beats skiing and snowboarding except FREE skiing and snowboarding.

A Chance to Help Someone in Need…

2016-01-31-fire
Click to enlarge

Last weekend I reported about a young couple who lost everything in a fire in Davis, West Virginia as shared by Timberline Resort. They are appealing to anyone who can help a young couple who lost everything in a fire on Tuesday of this past week. The Davis, West Virginia community is a close-knit one and so we thought we’d share their notice to help aid the young couple.

Timberline Resort has posted a link to the cause and it was posted by Bailey Rose Stanton.

On January 26, a section of the Talaheim apartment complex in Davis, WV caught fire. My close friends, Steven Abner and Briana Johnson were safe and were able to get their dogs out of the home. However, everything in the apartment was destroyed. These are some of the kindest people I have ever met, individuals with an incredibly positive outlook. They are so thankful that no one, human or canine, was physically harmed in the blaze, but would greatly appreciate financial help to get them back up on their feet. Any donation is appreciated!

There is a GoFundMe page setup and at the time of this post 50+ people had helped to raise 3750 towards a goal of $10K. If you are blessed to be able to help, here is the link to do so: https://www.gofundme.com/cuaa4vqw/

 

 

That will do it for me. Enjoy your day and…

#THINKCOLD
#THINKSNOW

Until next time…

Enjoy your day and THINK SNOW! THINK COLD! Email me anytime and about anything at: [email protected]

forumCLICKBe sure to VISIT OUR SNOW FORUM. JOIN AND TAKE PART! It’s Free!

Also visit all of our Ski Resort WebCams.

2015-nov-18-newsletterAlso be sure to sign up for our newsletters. It’s FREE and easy. Click in the signup to the right

Snowshoe fired up the snowmaking guns once again overnight.

Well, we survived the heavy rain and storms that plagued the region yesterday.  They moved through pretty quickly and were gone by the early afternoon for the most part.  The rain amounts varied greatly depending on which ski area you were at, with the heaviest stuff in the southern part of the region.  The weather station at Cataloochee ended up reporting 2.44″ of underdeveloped snow yesterday.  Woof.  Our station at Sugar is showing 1.54″, the Massanutten rain gauge shows 0.96″, and Snowshoe saw 0.41″ of the wet stuff.

So the further north you went the lesser the totals seemed to be.  The rain was heavy at times and a couple of ski areas actually closed in the middle of it all yesterday.  Wolf Ridge and Bryce Resort decided to temporarily suspend operations yesterday due to the weather.  Both resorts are back open today though.

Temperatures have begun to drop behind the front that moved through yesterday and are much colder than yesterday morning.  The biggest 24 hour temperature change easily goes to Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee who are at 33 degrees this morning, which is 23 degrees colder than this time yesterday.  A lot of resorts are hovering right around the freezing mark this morning, so most didn’t make snow overnight.  The only two that noted snowmaking were Snowshoe Mountain and Sugar Mountain.  That will change tonight though.

There’s also a bunch of clouds hanging around this morning.  Generally that is not good to see on the webcams, but it did produce this awesome looking shot from the Hemphill Cam at Cataloochee this morning.  Cat is somewhere in those clouds.

image

Today and tomorrow are recovery days for the ski areas in preparation for the weekend.  Snowmaking is going to resume today/tonight and fix the (minor) damage done by the rain.  Temps tomorrow are cold enough for some resorts to continue making snow throughout the daytime hours.  That means we could see snowmaking tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night going into the weekend.  That would be 36 straight hours or so of snowmaking for some of the ski areas which will refresh the slopes nicely for Saturday and Sunday.  And the weekend itself still looks great in terms of weather.

NORTHWEST FLOW

The first half of next week is starting to look interesting.  For skiers and snowboarders here in the Southeast, Northwest flow is a phrase that we want to hear.  My friends make fun of me because I like to mention it a lot.  When you hear that phrase in the winter time it usually means snow…and high quality snow at that.  Monday through Wednesday look to see an extended period of Northwest flow and we could see some decent snowfall at the West Virginia and North Carolina ski areas as a result.  The local forecaster for the High Country of NC said areas “along the NC/TN state line will pile up snow during this period”.  Those areas include Sugar, Beech, and even Wolf Ridge.  Sounds promising.  One of the weather models I’m looking at right now shows some really good totals up into West Virginia towards Snowshoe, Canaan, and Timberline.

We’ll have to wait and see how this develops over the next several days.  Hopefully it pans out because I for one would like to see some snow on the ground outside of the trails at the ski areas.  It’s crazy to think, but all that snow from a few weeks ago is almost gone now.  David Lesher noted it on his report this morning…

“No snow on the ground outside of trails, Still many patches of snow remaining, but less than half the ground is covered.”

Let’s hope Mother Nature delivers next week and makes up for this week.  I’m sure Brad Panovich will have a video update in the next day or two to give us a better idea of what to expect.  Regardless of natural snow, it’s going to be really cold so snowmaking will be ongoing next week.

Notables

Today and tomorrow, Catalooche is celebrating Law Enforcement Appreciation Days.  Members of the po-po get some nice deals for them and their family.

Thursday and Friday, February 4 and 5 are Law Enforcement Appreciation Days and all law enforcement personnel both active and retired and their families will receive special discounts on lift, lesson and rental for day, twilight and night skiing on both days.

This isn’t really a notable, but Timberline posted a POV video yesterday to show what it’s like ski there.  It’s kind of cool and interesting to watch, especially for somebody like me who has still yet to go there.  Check it out!

While I’m showing videos, Massanutten also posted one yesterday that gives a great overview of the resort and all it has to offer.

Hopefully those two keep you entertained for a few minutes while you’re at work!

As always, check out the snow report page for detailed info about current snow and trail conditions.

Snow Reports

Base depths dropped some since yesterday overall, and kudos to the resorts who did show a realistic dropoff.  Those will recover in the next couple of days though and increase as we progress into next week.

That’s it for today.  I think Mike will be with you all tomorrow as I’ll be driving up to Banner Elk for work.  Think cold and think snow!

Fresh corduroy at Beech Mountain yesterday morning.

The good news…it’s Wednesday and we’re halfway through the work week.  One day closer to the weekend and one day closer to a Panthers Super Bowl victory.  The bad news…the weather is awful right now.  There is no way to sugar coat it.  Temperatures at the resorts right now are in the 40’s and even the low 50’s for a few locations.  It’s also raining at every ski area in the region right now as a line of showers and thunderstorms moves through.

A look at the radar this morning. No bueno.

We’ve known that this was going to happen for the last several days now, but it still sucks.  I don’t think we’ve had a rain event like this since December though, so we were due for one I guess.  At least those snowmaking ponds will be refilled!

This line of storms is the same one that produced some tornadoes yesterday across Alabama and Mississippi.  While we aren’t going to have to worry about any of that nonsense, the rain is going to be rather heavy at times today and into the afternoon.  I just looked at the weather station out at Cataloochee in Maggie Valley, NC and they are already reporting 1.9″ of rain today.  Oof.

Just a heads up, as a result of the weather, Cataloochee isn’t opening until 1pm today.  They’ll be open for the afternoon and night sessions though, from 1-10pm.

Probably a good call on their part and I can’t imagine there were too many people who were planning on skiing this morning anyways.

If you were planning on getting some turns in tonight, you might get lucky as the rain is supposed to taper off through the later afternoon hours.  I’ve seen days like this before where the morning was doom and gloom and then the evening produced some spectacular sunsets in the mountains.  I don’t think that’s going to happen today as it’s supposed to stay cloudy, but the rain should let up and the night sessions might be alright.  The snow will be super soft, but that just means it won’t hurt when you fall.

French Creek Freddie > Punxsutawney Phil

I talked yesterday morning about how Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring and how it was rubbish.  Well, I did not realize it but the REAL groundhog weather prognosticator, French Creek Freddie of West Virginia, weighed in with his prediction.  Freddie saw his shadow and thus is forecasting six more weeks of winter.  Apparently it’s the first time he’s seen his shadow in 8 years.  As always, when it comes rodent weather forecasting take it with a grain of salt, but we’ll take his prediction over Phil’s any day.


It’s smooth sailing for the ski areas for a while once we get past today’s weather nonsense.  Snowmaking conducive temperatures begin to move back in tonight and tomorrow.  A few flurries/snow showers are possible tomorrow for some, but nothing to get too worked up about.  The main takeaway is that the end of the work week and the weekend is looking really, really good right now.  A good amount of sunshine during the day with snowmaking every night.  Nice!  We’ll rebound quickly and this rain of the last few days will be a distant memory by the weekend.  I feel like in recent years anytime whenever we’ve had a rain event it seems to always happen on the weekend, so it’s nice to see it occur early in the week for a change.

The beginning of next week looks like some possible snow for Monday and Tuesday.  There’s still some uncertainty right now with it so I’ll just leave it at that for the time being and talk more about it in the coming days.

Wrap-Up

As always, check the snow reports page for more detailed info about conditions, trail counts, etc.

Snow Reports

In general, not much has changed this week even with the rain.  Base depths are down several inches but that will be recouped in the coming days once snowmaking gets back going.  Almost all of the trails that were available on Sunday are still open today, save for a couple here and there.  We’ll see how things look tomorrow after the rain today.  I’m not worried about it though, and you shouldn’t either.  The weather outlook is great after today.

Stay dry.  Think cold and think snow.

The Cupp Challenge went down at Snowshoe Mountain yesterday.

I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I had absolutely no clue that today was Groundhog Day until I started reading the news this morning.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been out of it all weekend due to being sick or I was just wrapped up in work yesterday, but it completely missed me.  It’s a good thing I scan the interwebs every morning or I would have looked like a fool by not mentioning it this morning.

-phil2If you haven’t heard yet, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this morning.  Boooooo.  As USA Today notes though, “…flipping a coin is pretty much as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, the furry forecaster has been ‘right’ 13 times and ‘wrong’ 15 times”.  So bascially, take his “forecast” with a grain of salt.

I prefer to get my weather forecast from the experts, such as Brad Panovich.  He sent us his latest video forecast overnight and it’s a good one if you like cold and snow.  The title of his email was “Cold and Stormy is Coming Back”.  I like that.

We always have a mid-winter thaw.  It always happens.  If this past weekend and beginning of this week turn out to be this season’s big thaw then we should all be very happy.  A few days of above average temps and a little rain isn’t anything compared to some years past.  I can remember seasons with a week plus of 50 and 60 degree temps and sunshine.  We’ll call this a mini-thaw.

The phrase that stuck out to me from Brad’s video is “mega cold dump”.  I’m looking at some of the weather models for next week and mega cold dump is an accurate assessment of what we could see.  It would easily be the coldest air of the season thus far if the scenario pans out.  Snowmaking galore and the natural snow that Brad mentioned would just be icing on the cake.

So don’t let this last few days and tomorrow bum you out.  Or Punxsutawney Phil for that matter.  He knows nothing.  Winter is far from over and we still have plenty of winter and skiing/snowboarding left.

This Morning

We have quite the variety in terms of weather this morning across the region.  It always astounds me just how much the conditions can differ at the ski areas in the region.  The temperature reading at Wisp Resort in Maryland this morning was 28 degrees.  That’s the first resort I do on the snow report so I was thinking sweet, it’s nice and chilly this morning.  Then I went to the North Carolina resorts next and it’s much warmer down this way.  In general, all of the resorts here are in the mid 40’s.  Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee is the warm spot this morning as they were at 53 degrees this AM.  That’s a 25 degree spread in temperatures from north to south.  Crazy.

To further illustrate the variety in weather this morning, check out the webcam shots from Wisp and App Ski Mountain below.

Wisp is nice and sunny.

image (1)

Appalachian Ski Mountain is socked in with fog.

G2e4K4e

The little bit of underdeveloped snow yesterday has caused base depths at several resorts to drop a few inches from yesterday.  It’s nothing major but I like the honest reporting!  Everyone is still sitting pretty though with solid coverage.

An honorable mention goes to Snowshoe as it appears they were the only resort to make snow overnight.  Kudos to them and they’re also up to 54 open trails out of 60 now.  Nice!

Today and Tomorrow

The weather forecast for the immediate future is a little meh.  Today should be mostly cloudy with a light shower possible.  Heavier rain moves in tonight and tomorrow as Brad Panovich mentioned in his video.  I’m not going to lie, tomorrow won’t be the most ideal day on the slopes.

That colder air moves in Wednesday night though and Thursday through the weekend are looking good.  If you can get out and ride Thursday or Friday, I highly suggest it!  Mid-week riding is the best this time of year.  Wintergreen listed some other reasons why and they also put out a little video highlighting them.

  • Parking is a breeze
  • Buying tickets is a snap
  • Cruise through rentals
  • Lift lines are virtually non-existent
  • Wide open slopes

They’re currently offering a Winter Escape package that starts at just $94 dollars per person during midweek, which includes lodging and a lift ticket.

I’ll be up in Banner Elk on Friday replacing the Highway 184 cam at the Banner Elk Cafe with a streaming one, and depending on how long it takes I’m hoping to get some midweek turns in myself at Beech during the afternoon.  I’m hoping to bomb Robbins Run with minimal people on it!

Finally, Snowshoe held their annual Cupp Run Challenge yesterday and they have an awesome photo gallery up.  You should check it out!

That’s it for today.  Think cold and think snow!

Brad Panovich is back this week to talk about the upcoming weather forecast for the ski areas in the region.  The beginning of this week doesn’t look too great but then we’re in for a “mega cold dump” as Brad says.  Watch below!