4,170 WORDS JUST TO TELL YOU GUYS TO GO SKI OR RIDE THIS WEEK!
I'm certain we'll hear from Brad Panovich today or Thursday, however the question that I've been asked the most is what will the conditions be like after Christmas for those headed up for a Holiday ski trip. To answer that question I have to put on my "travel agent" hat. I worked a bit at the office on Christmas Eve and had intended NOT to answer the phone and get some "catch-up" work done before heading out for my own Holiday ski trip. However it rang SO MUCH that I finally took a few calls.
OH MY GOODNESS, all but two of the calls were centered around travel to the area beginning today through New Years. I finally setup a voice mail to enlighten callers that:
1. We are NOT the ski resort.
2. That all of the information they were calling about could be found on the site.
3. That I'm not Nostradamus, nor Brad Panovich, nor Herb Stevens.
As far as the latter is concerned, it appears that Michel de Nostradamus was not "all that" other than a couple of lucky hits on the Hitler (Hister) and Napolean thing. Remember that according to him, we'd be well into World War III right about now and by sometime in July or August things would be calming down. According to him, we'd not be worrying about ski conditions.
Unless all HELL breaks loose in the next couple of days, I think I might be about as accurate a forecaster of the future as anyone else. How does someone get that gig anyway?
Naw, I'm going to be out of town and really would rather the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stuff at LEAST gets delayed until I get back home. I've got some clients who need me to handle some stuff for them. So this doomsday stuff will just have to make an appointment.
Back to all of the calls…
Nearly every call I took the other day began with, "Are you open?"
I'm kinda smart so it didn't take me long to figure out that all of those callers weren't in need of a web designer. THESE PEOPLE WANTED SOME SNOW!!!
…and they were NOT taking any attempts at a runaround from me. So I've had to do my best impression of Brad Panovich and give them what they were asking for.
WHAT THE HECK, CAN WE EXPECT…from the weather.
For ME personally, there is NO simple answer to that question. To get to the bottom of what you guys are actually looking for, I have to be some kind of combination of travel agent, weather guru, and psychologist.
I can see some of you out there – EVEN YOU ski admins – looking at your computer screens and wondering, "What the heck is Mike talking about?"
There are 370 miles or so (as the crow flies) between McHenry, Maryland (home to Wisp Resort) and Sapphire, NC (home to Sapphire Valley Ski Resort). Those 370+/- miles include five states and numerous mountain ranges with weather as diverse as it comes.
Many times as I am writing the morning BLOG I am seeing temperature ranges that are some 30° difference from Snowshoe Mountain to Wolf Laurel. If I were to answer every caller based on Canaan Valley's weather people would be headed to the mountain's in record numbers this season.
HERE COMES TO PSYCHOLOGIST ROLE…
So the calls and the emails come in like, "Based on what you know and if you were me, would you head to XYZ resort?"
As I'm about to answer that question I can see the vacation rental company owners and ski resort operators leaning forward like the old EF Hutton commercials. You know that one that said, "When EF Hutton talks, people listen!"
Well I get the feeling that as I am answering those kind of questions, that our ski peeps and vacation rental owners are looking over my shoulder as I type the answers. I guess I have that feeling because I too am a business owner and I know how important every nickel of revenue is.
THAT SAID…I just can't imagine allowing ANYONE to make a trip and spend their hard-earned monies based on a lie or "Sunshine Pumping".
SO I TRY…or I should say WE TRY.
We ask, "Where are you headed?" Then we try to give you guys the best information based on our years of experience and the resources that ALL OF US now have at our fingertips. …and then I try to give you guys HOPE. Hope that the weather will be on the better side of whatever the forecast is. The truth is, I've NEVER had a bad ski trip. Nope, never.
(HERE COMES THE PSYCHOLOGIST PART…)
Even within the most rain-involved trip I've ever had, my crew HAD FUN. We sat and talked, read books, played games and just recharged our batteries. Hell, I've skied when it was pouring – on purpose – and had to wring out buckets of water from all of my gear when done.
MY BUSINESS. YOUR BUSINESS. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Many of you who are reading this are business owners yourselves. Let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourselves moral? You'd never deceive anyone to help insure your bottom line would you? OF COURSE, we're all going to answer that question with a resounding "NO".
How about if you had LITTLE or NO CONTROL over your business? How about if 25% of your entire annual revenue came from ONE IMPORTANT WEEK?
THAT, my friends is what our ski area owners and managers are faced with year after year. I think that I speak for the entire ski industry when I say that NOT ONE of the ski area management people in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ever want ONE VISITOR to come and spend their money and not get their monies worth.
So when we or any of the ski areas are asked about the conditions and whether or not YOU should make the trip – we're always going to answer that question BASED ON HOW WE would approach a trip ourselves. History teaches us that we can NEVER REALLY know what the hell the weather is going to do. There's an old mountain adage that says something like "If you don't like the weather right now, hang around for thirty minutes because it is going to change."
Faced with the SAME quandry that most of you who are planning for a ski getaway, those of us WITHIN the ski industry and with a passion for the mountains, and snow and all else that comes with it – we will ALWAYS err on the side of making the trip.
YOU SHOULD AS WELL…and you can thank me later.
FOR THOSE THAT STILL NEED ME TO WEAR MY TRAVEL AGENT AND WEATHER GURU HATS…
HERE'S THE SUMMARY DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU ARE HEADED:
PACK YOUR GEAR AND GET TO WISP…
3-7" of snow and perhaps mixed precip will hit Wisp Wednesday! Then SNOW is in the forecast most every day from now til New Year's Day. Wisp will open more slopes daily. So why did you need me anyway?
We'll travel the 30 miles or so from McHenry to Davis, WV next.
DAVIS, WV CANAAN VALLEY & TIMBERLINE:
UHMMM WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? IT'S SNOWING!
Let's see after SNOW Christmas evening, there's a 100% chance of snow Wednesday with 4-8" of snow on Wednesday. Wednesday night is is going to (let me see oh yea) SNOW! Snow is in the forecast for nearly every day through New Year's Day and temps should be in the 20s for HIGHS and teens for lows. Can you say "Lots of terrain?"
We'll now head 57 Miles Southwest to SNOWSHOE'S 4848' ELEVATIONS:
(Here's where you guys need me.)
According to the NWS, things look VASTLY different forecast-wise from Canaan to Snowshoe. As you know Wisp is forecasted to see 3-7" of snow; Canaan and Timberline are expected to see 4-8" of snow.
However, according to the NWS, Snowshoe should only see about 1-3" of snow on Wednesday. I'm not buying it…and maybe the REAL weather gurus will enlighten me later today however I'm going on record to say that Snowshoe will see considerably MORE than 1-3" of snow Wednesday and into Thursday. More snow is in the forecast through New Year's Day and beyond AND cold temps will allow for snowmaking that will certainly ADD to Snowshoe's region-leading slope count. Word has it that Snowshoe is working on getting portions of Cupp Run and Shays open on the Western side of the mountain.
TRANSLATION: GOOD GRIEF, GO!
Heading now 83 miles further south and west to GHENT, WV…
(This one is trickier…)
Let me say first – "GO!"; "MAKE THE TRIP" because temps WILL be plenty cold for snowmaking through the rest of the day of this year with SOME SNOW in the forecast. Wednesday night, through Saturday things look SNOWY. Wednesday will probably bring some rain, but Winterplace is in great shape to handle it and they should see more and more terrain opening daily from now through New Year's.
(I missed a turn and now need to head EAST and NORTH 152 miles to Basye, VA.)
PLEASED TO SAY…KEEP THOSE RESERVATIONS…
There's little or no rain on tap for Bryce according to the NWS. A wintry mix fell overnight and will again on Wednesday and Wednesday night with maybe 1-2" of frozen accummulation. SNOW is in the forecast again on Saturday and highs should be in the 30-35° range and lows in the teens to 27° through the period. The Lochers will get those snowmakers firing at every opportunity and things will shape up nicely for your trip.
26 Miles NORTH AGAIN (I know, I'm not a very good driver!) WE ARRIVE AT MASSANUTTEN.
QUICK TIP: MAKE THE TRIP
I've been really feeling it for Kenny Hess, Steve Showalter and their crew as they've just not had the temps to work with in Virginia. That will all change this week as SNOW fell overnight. It was mostly ambience snow, but snow is snow. A Wintry MIX will fall today with maybe some freezing rain tonight. However highs the rest of the year will be in the mid to upper 30s and lows will be in the teens some nights and low to mid 20s the rest of the month.
Snowmaking is something that Kenny, Steve and their entire team can do!
NOW I KNOW WE'RE LOST 'CAUSE WE ARE NOW HEADING back WEST and SOUTH to Hot Springs, VA.
THE HOMESTEAD RESORT:
If you love The Homestead then you already know that there's SO MUCH more to do there that just ski or ride. However you'll be okay for that as well. 2-3" of SNOW or something close to SNOW should fall Wednesday through Thursday. Then highs in the upper 20s some day to upper 30s the rest of the month. Lows will be in the teens and low 20s. SNOWMAKING!!!
(IMPROVING CONDITIONS, MORE TRAILS WILL OPEN.)
We trek another 52 miles east and south a bit and things look a bit wetter…but only through Wednesday night. There may be some more under-developed snow (RAIN) on Saturday as well…but all in all the forecast looks okay. If you were headed there anyway – KEEP your seats ladies and gentlemen. You'll have good conditions to play in.
23-28° lows on Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night and then upper TEENS Sunday night and then more 20s on Monday night SHOULD make for vastly improved conditions.
Wintergreen only had ONE trail open on Christmas Day and that isn't going to excite anyone, however they should be able to get perhaps close to HALF of their mountain open over the next five days or so. YOU MAKE THE CALL, but if you already have reservations and you're wavering…going ahead and keep them. You'll have a great time.
NEXT STOP IS 195 MILES SOUTH AND WEST to BLOWING ROCK, NC:
(HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN READING MY STUFF? GO! GET IN YOUR CAR!)
APPACHIAN SKI MOUNTAIN:
These guys went from ZERO to open with HALF their mountain OPEN in two days. They look pretty good right now and even after some DOWNPOURS Christmas Night, things are OKAY. Today will be a rainy day with highs not feeling very winter-like, HOWEVER about an INCH of snow is forecasted for tonight and Thursday could bring a little more snow accumulation. Snow or something close to it should be around on Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday AM. Snow showers are forecasted for Monday night as well. With HIGHS in the low to mid 30s and overnight lows in the low to mid 20s through the rest of this month bear in mind that Brad Moretz and his SNOW PROS can bomb a freakin' BLIZZARD on App. GO I TELL YOU! GO!
JUST TEN MILES OVER TO SUGAR MOUNTAIN AND BANNER ELK:
GO! STOP YOUR FUSSING! GO!
With already one-half of their mountain OPEN as of Christmas Day ( 9 of 20 trails), Snow Tubing AND Ice Skating OPEN, AND snow and cold in the forecast…we'd say just get your rear and gear packed up and head to Sugar.
I was speaking with a vacation rental agency on Monday and she told me that people were calling to cancel reservations based on the rain that came in Christmas night and today. Do you guys not yet understand that it DOES NOT DARE RAIN on Sugar Mountain! Okay, I'm pulling your ski pants, but Gunther and his team of snowmaking gurus can make snow when others either can't, don't or won't. I've personally seen them "water the darn grass" up there with those expensive snowmakers and something just magical happens. Gunther or Kim must stare down those water particles because they turn into frozen crystals faster than you can say "Rah-ho-may-da-koocha". I tell you, it's magic what they can do up there!
All kidding (kind of) aside, Sugar's forecast looks good once the rain moves out today. SNOW is likely later today with perhaps 1-2" possible today and another 1-3" tonight. Snow should be falling Thursday and when all is said we may see perhaps 3-5" of snow. Some wintry precip is forecasted for Friday night THROUGH Saturday night with more accumulation possible.
Lows should be in the 20-25° range through the end of the year with highs in the upper 30s most days with some around-the-clock snowmaking ops a few days during that period. With some help from natural snow and good snowmaking ops, don't be surprised if Sugar gets most of their mountain open during this next few days.
SIX MORE MILES NORTH AND WEST TO BEECH MOUNTAIN…
BEECH'S 5505' ELEVATIONS WILL SEE SNOW…
JUST GO. ARE YOU REALLY STILL READING THIS?
Whatever Sugar Mountain sees in the way of snowfall, just add about one-inch to it and you'll get Beech's snowfall tally. After a LOT of rain overnight things will need some TLC on the bottom slopes of Beech. Remember though that on Christmas Day they had 7 of 15 trails operating. That could take a one day hit due to the rain last night and today, but then things turn COLD and SNOWY!
One thing that I have ALREADY witnessed this season is that Ryan Costin and his posse now have the resources to make snow as good as anybody. Those new PoleCats were blasting a damn blizzard last weekend and with highs in the mid to upper 20s and lows in the teens many nights…Beech will lay down some nice snow and get even more terrain open. We'd all like to see Oz and White Lightning open, but those might not make the cut just yet…but I think we'll see a lot of Beech Mountain open this week and into the first of the year.
Beech Mountain's elevations make snow…so expect a nice trip.
NEXT STOP 82 Miles South and West to THE CAT…
YOU GUYS DO KNOW THAT CAT HAD 10 of 17 TRAILS OPEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY, RIGHT?
Cat has done a lot with just a little this season. There's some magic in that hat that Chris Bates wears. After the rain clears today, look for a MIXED bag of tricks Wednesday night…but some SNOW on Thursday. Maybe an inch or so should fall and that will be great for the Haywood County sweethearts of the ski industry. Highs through the end of the year should be around the upper 30s to the mid 40s each day with lows coming in the 26-34° range. It will be touch and go some nights but I'd expect 4 nights of snowmaking from now through New Year's Day (or more) and that's all Cataloochee needs and they'll get more terrain open.
JUST 27 MILES north and West is Gatlinburg…
YOU MAKE THE CALL. HECK I'D GO. Ski when you can, then ride the Gondola downtown, hit the bars and restaurants; take a TRAM to Dolly World, then go back to Ober and repeat as necessary.
Ober is a beautiful drive through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park from Maggie Valley and even though its only 27 miles, it will take you an hour or so to make the drive.
It's worth the drive rain or shine, because there's so much to do in Gatlinburg anyway.
John E. F. Cossaboom (that's not a typo), the Winter Sports Director for Ober got a little angry at me the other day when I was reporting about it raining at the popular, Smoky Mountain resort. Ober had 3 of 9 trails open on Christmas Day and snow tubing as well. They also boast THE BEST ice skating facility in the region.
Things are not looking all that great for today with thunderstorms and highs in the low 50s at Ober. Tonight could see some rain/snow mix with lows around 29°. Thursday may see some snow then lows that night around 27°. That MAY be the only snowmaking until Saturday night and again on Sunday night. So Ober will have to fight to keep what they have.
DRIVE 55 (MILES THAT IS) North and East to MARS (HILL THAT IS)
These guys need your business.
The "Wolf" hasn't had much of a bite this season and that really hurts after such a suck season in 2011-2012. However the weather just hasn't been there for Orville English and his hats of many colors crew.
Wolf had 4 of 20 trails open on the 24th before closing early due to a lack of peeps on the slopes…due to the rain.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE…at Wolf…
Things will be touch and go with SHOWERS today (perhaps an inch) and then a rain/snow mix Wednesday night and Thursday and again this weekend. However there's also some mid 20° lows forecasted for Thursday night, Saturday and Sunday nights. Three days of snowmaking will probably dictate only about half the mountain open at best. However half a Wolf is better than no Wolf. So if you have reservations, keep them. That would be my call. However it will be some dodging the raindrops kind of trip from time to time.
56 MILES LEFT ON THIS TRIP. I'M TIRED.
These guys are trying to up their game. They really are.
A LOT OF RAIN was headed towards Sapphire last night and HEAVY RAIN is forecasted for today. They HAD BOTH of their TWO trails open yesterday and the base was a reported 1-12" or so. That could be a mess after nearly 2-3" inches of RAIN hits Sapphire. However lows are forecasted to drop to 25° tonight; 28° Thursday night; and there's even some SNOW in the forecast heading into the weekend. Sunday night looks cold as well and I'd expect them to have those two trails looking good through the period.
WHO THE HECK ELSE DOES THIS FOR YOU GUYS???
I think I JUST drove several hundred miles out of my way to take you on my personal tour of the ski areas of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic to convince you or one thing. If you already have reservations – KEEP THEM. If you're debating whether or not to take a ski trip to your favorite ski hill – MAKE THE TRIP! If you're reading this BLOG, you KNOW you WANT to go. JUST GO!
Guys I'm headed to Snowshoe Mountain to do my best to video every inch of that mountain before I leave. I'll be the guy wearing a HUGE SMILE as this will INCREDIBLY be my FIRST turns of the season. I hope to rip off as many turns down the hill as I can over the next six days or so and then do it over and over at the REST of the ski areas this season.
If you're at Snowshoe…email me and maybe we can meet up.
I think I just set my personal record for the LONGEST post in my 17 years doing this stuff and I know I just burned a lot of gas bussing you guys around. You owe me…you know you do.
See you on the slopes!
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