A Tale of Two Seasons – Springlike Weather Continues

HERE WE GO…

I knew this was probably going to happen with this mild two week stretch. Wolf Ridge Resort is open with 13 of 23 trails for day sessions only today and then they posted:

"WE WILL CLOSE THIS MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY AND RE-OPEN SATURDAY FOR DAY SKI: WEATHER PERMITTING."

So if the weather doesn’t permit we could see a ski resort close operations for the season as early as February 27th??? That’s not a good signal to be sending…but it is what it is…

Now on to our "regularly scheduled blogging"…

It is SIXTY DEGREES THIS MORNING AT OBER GATLINBURG!

This has been a winter that could easily be described as a "Tale of Two Seasons". At the halfway point of the season most of the resort communities were on pace to post one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. Prior to the season all of the weather forecasters were calling for this season to a challenging one and one that would deliver sub par natural snow to resorts in North Carolina and about normal for those in West Virginia. By the mid point in the season most of the North Carolina resort towns had already surpassed their normal snowfall totals for an entire winter.

For example, Beech Mountain Resort normally averages 80" of snow per season and yet by February 10th had already seen 116" of snow. A decade from now if were to look back quickly at those numbers we’re going to think that this was a consistently snowy winter. …and it was, until the mid point in the season. Since February 10th – nothing, nada.

Not only did the natural snows go south (or north literally), so did the frigid cold temps. Around the first of February weather peeps were saying that even if things milded up a bit, we’d still see a winter that averaged well below normal for temps. I’m not so sure that’s still the case. We’ll see, but it has been very mild and Springlike lately…

Twenty four hours ago we were seeing some snowmaking temps with lows such as these:

Appalachian – 25°
Cataloochee – 29°
Beech Mountain – 32°
Wolf Ridge – 29°
Massanutten – 25°
Wintergreen – 20°
Snowshoe – 20°
Winterplace – 25°
Wisp – 19°

Just 24 hours later these are the 8am temps:

Appalachian – 52°
Cataloochee – 54°
Beech Mountain – 42°
Wolf Ridge – 40°
Massanutten – 41°
Wintergreen – 47°
Snowshoe – 46°
Wisp – 32°
Ober – 60° !!!!!!

Temperatures WERE lower than that overnight and we’ve posted those on the Snow Report page, but the point is we’re seeing another mild day, and crazy, Spring-like weather.

It should be a decent day (cloudy but dry) for the North Carolina mountains on Sunday and then some rain on Monday. Tuesday through Friday looks sunny, dry and continued mild with only borderline snowmaking temps.

The resorts in West Virginia and Maryland may see a little more chance for rain later today, tonight and there’s an 80% chance of rain on Monday. Tuesday is looking – believe it or not – SNOWY early in the day, then clear with highs in the low 40s each day and overnight lows in the mid and upper 20s that should allow for some snowmaking with Monday night temps around 22°, Tuesday night 25°, and Wednesday night 23°. Past that it’s looking milder…again…

TRIP REPORTS SOUND MORE LIKE A SOUTHERN RESTAURANT MENU

Several trip reports and emails to my skiMail inbox included terms like these:

"Man there was lots of snow at Cataloochee on Saturday but everything turned to mashed potatoes around noon."

"I had a great day at Massanutten on Saturday even though everything went to a cookie dough before lunch and mashed taters later in the day."

I LOVED THIS ONE

"The conditions were like a light, champagne powder early on and then went to frozen mashed potatoes later. The day started with a light dusting of snow on the hill and super groomed corduroy across lots of the slopes and then went to heavy taters."

I’m getting hungry just reading these…

WANNA HEAR MORE WEATHER CRAZINESS???

Here we are fighting the promotional and educational battle of making sure that those of you who live OFF the mountain know that there’s still plenty of snow ON the slopes. Those of you living in flatlander locations have no doubt started dusting off those rackets and clubs. Many have taken to kayaking.

Yet believe it or not Canaan Valley, Timberline and Snowshoe (and even Wisp Resort in Maryland) have seen at least some measureable snow on FIVE of the last SEVEN days! Their temps have risen to Springlike conditions later in the day, however here’s an example using David Lesher’s weather data recently:

Canaan and Timberline resorts have seen 10" of SNOW even since February 10th…when winter went south. How about the fact that they’ve had 24.9" of snow in February and yet on 14 of the 27 days of February (thus far) they’ve also seen temps rise into the 40s and even low 50s. Canaan Valley began the month at 149.5" of snow on the season up to that date. They are now at 174.4" of snow on the season.

Even so, it has been a mild, tempermental stretch on behalf of old ma Nature and if things don’t turn around, we’ll see resorts with a lot of snow still laying around, but fewer people educated enough to know that and buying lift passes. Such is life in the ski industry.

I heard from vacation rental companies across the region on Friday and all were basically saying, "What can you do?" When you guys get it in your head that all the snow is melting, it gets harder and harder to convince you otherwise. Of course there are thousands of you reading this blog every morning. You’re the core people who don’t want to give up on winter until sometime in April – and even reluctantly then. That’s why more and more resorts are becoming more and more involved with this website. However we could sure use your help. Help us pass the word that there IS plenty of snow on the slopes. This is a great time to ride because less crowded slopes mean no lift lines. We’re not usually talking like this until the second week of March, but like the lady said, "What can you do?"

We’ll keep informing. You guys need to keep coming. Like we say all the time – perception is everything. One of Snowshoe’s Facebook followers posted a comment over the last couple of days saying, "The slopes were as good as they were after all the snow in January. …they sure know how to work magic."

Well…magic and a little science. However all of the ski areas of our region know how to manage their snow base darn well. While things are looking a bit worn here and there – there IS plenty of snow and no thin coverage areas or bare spots for the most part. There is plenty of great terrain to ride on…even if they turn to mash potatoes, cookie dough and other food products late in the day.

Go enjoy your day and check the snow report page for all the details.

Drop me an email with your favorite photos, videos, and any comments to [email protected] . Also be sure to visit:

Our Sno!Forum Messageboard – http://www.skinc.com/messageboard/

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.