All I Want for Christmas is a TON OF SNOW!

What’s On Your Mind This Morning – Temps for the next couple of week, that’s what!

We cover that as well as possible and more today…so here we go.

I was up at 5:30am this morning, trying to get the cobwebs out and get right on the news of the day as I have a lot going on within these day leading up to Christmas. We all do, right?!?! So anyway I first go to login to my SkiMail (cute name for our ski email) and not only could I not get my emails, the domain name didn’t even exist anymore! Of course my heart jumped into my throat for a few moments until I reminded myself that I am IN the internet biz and I knew quite well that the domain name AND email servers were all working just fine. However, some CRAZY anomaly took place overnight that made it such that tens of thousands of domain names were not displaying as they should to everyone in the United States. To stay off the technical stuff, just suffice to say that it delayed the heck out of my morning until I got to the bottom of it.

The problem was resolved and then I checked my email and had to wait while morning ski reports and photos poured in amongst 849 emails overnight (not counting the 14 junk emails – I REALLY have great SPAM filters). Once those came in I had to scan them quickly to see what was on your minds this morning…and it seems that a lot of people didn’t pay close attention to yesterday’s story. You know the one that says that snow doesn’t melt away like some of you guys think.

Chris, from Wilmington wrote, "Bringing some very excited 16 year olds up to snowboard next weekend at Appalachian. Warm weather is making me wonder if conditions will be descent…they have fun when they aren’t ideal…but just wondering. I think you do a fantastic job on your website. Lots of us from Wilmnington, NC count on your site and love it!!! Thank you!!! chris"

Okay, Chris did all that "complimenting thing", so I’ll address the question with my kinder, gentler side…in a moment. Actually one of my close friends from Lexington, South Carolina also called yesterday (after reading Saturday’s story) and asked, "Are we still on for skiing? Will there be good snow over the Christmas break? I sure hope so."

NOW TO THE ANSWER…

Okay Chris (and you too Carolyn) – the slopes look GREAT today. Resorts received 3-4" of snow on Friday; they’ve made snow to beat the band thus far and even though there was a LOT of rain last week, the cold air filtered back in on Friday and resorts made a lot of snow. Most reported a 3" increase in base depths in the last 24 hours. I would rank the snow for today as a 7 out of 10. Only packed powder or powder gets an 8-10 in my book. So we have some sweet surfaces to play on today.

Chris was alluding to NEXT WEEKEND and Carolyn was speaking to the 26th forward – so let’s address their anxieties. (Chris and Carolyn I will send you my bill later today 🙂 )

HERE IS WHERE THINGS GET CONVOLUTED!!!

First – some light rain (measured in TENTHS of inches) is forecasted for the week ahead for most all of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic’s ski areas. However temperatures thus far this season have UNUSUALLY varied. Let’s look at today as an example:

App – 24°
Cat – 33°
Hawks – 35°
Ski Beech – 27°
Sugar Mountain – 24°
Wolf Ridge – 32°
Bryce Resort – 32°
Massanutten – 32°
The Homestead – 30°
Wintergreen – 29°

Canaan Valley – 32°
Snowshoe Mountain – 25°
Timberline Resort – 32°
Winterplace Resort – 28°

Wisp Resort – 30°

Ober Gatlinburg – 35°

You will note several 20 degree ranges and some mid 30s. The different between a 35° reading and one in the low to mid 20s is the difference in light rain and light snow! So temps WILL play a role in who gets rain and which resorts might see some mixed precipitation – and which resorts might see more snow. Right now, things look more on the wet side for most of the region with tenths of an inch of rain each day Monday-Friday. Snowshoe, Timberline, Canaan Valley and Wisp Resort all look to see a few more snow flakes in the mix at various times during the week ahead. All of those resorts should see a mixed bag of precip early in the week and then all snow Wednesday night and Thursday. Colder temps return next weekend and even though there is some chances for mixed precip again Friday, the conditions should be nice. Of course that could change to all rain or all snow with the slightest change in temperature!

Going into the weekend of December 20th, things are looking nice with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens and 20s for Snowshoe and resorts north, so Christmas is looking quite nice at this point.

RESORTS INTO VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE and NC CAN EXPECT MOSTLY LIGHT DRIZZLE…THEN SUNNY SKIES AND NEAR NORMAL TEMPS AS WE APPROACH CHRISTMAS

We DO have some milder temps and light rain in the forecast for much of the area although the temps will not be WARM. The NORMAL temp for this time of year is a high of 48° and the average high forecasted for the week ahead in the High Country of Western North Carolina is 54-56°, which IS 6-8° above normal – but not WARM. The average low is 26° and we are looking at some 40-45° lows for this week ahead. However, those temps will simply make for soft snow. You will not see base depths drop much at all for the week ahead. The rains that are forecasted are also in the TENTHS of an inch variety and that won’t even prohibit a lot of people from hitting the slopes.

THEN COLD AIR is forecasted to hit the area on Saturday with lows in the upper 20s and that means more snowmaking. So relax, your trip to Appalachian should be just fine. You and the kids will enjoy it and the conditions should be darn nice to nearly great. (That’s my technical jargon!) Forecasters are also predicting some colder air as we approach Christmas weekend so let’s just think cold and snow! My 14 year old and several at her school have somehow come up with the idea of wearing their pajamas inside out as someone has evidently been doing that prior to each snowy day that we’ve had this season. (I’m betting that they had a look at the weather forecast prior to doing but what the heck, it’s harmless right?) So in whatever way YOU want to turn on the snow-rally-cap, go for it!

LET’S GET TO TODAY’S NEWS

Appalachian is 100% open, with a great Holiday atmosphere! They added 3" of new, manmade snow and even though it is currently (8am) 24°, they are not making snow. We watched as their groomers were creating what is certain to be some fine corduroy for the early Sunday sessions!

Cataloochee planned to make snow last night and we’ll speculate that they did, but the guns are off this morning. Cat will ski and ride today on 9 trails for Day Skiing Only from 8:30am – 4:30pm with a morning or afternoon half day rate also available. Tube World located in Maggie Valley across from Ghost Town in the Sky, four miles from the ski area, will not open for the season until December 20, weather permitting. Please check back with us as we get closer to the 20th for an update.

Ski Beech is reporting 27° and we are seeing a few guns still cranking out snow this morning. Beech will be open for day and night skiing sessions on Sunday with 5 of 15 trails open and ice skating. They also have a few freestyle features setup on Lower Shawneehaw to play on. Beech looks really nice this AM

Sugar Mountain is also looking pretty for Sunday. They made snow and still are as of this 8:19am post. Sugar Mountain will be open for day and night skiing sessions and they also have their skating rink open as well. Sunday is the last day of SugarFest and they also have a BURTON RAIL JAM TODAY! Sugar offers 12 trails and TUBING today as well!

Wolf Ridge Resort is open and we will speculate that they are offering the same trail count as Saturday with 5 trails and Snow Tubing. We will make it a point to get up with the staff over at Wolf this week, but they are obviously in an early-season mode where too few people are wearing too many hats. They haven’t returned our calls, they are showing a "photo of the day" from the 2007 season, they have not been updating their slope conditions report often and there some talk of squabbles among their factions that may prohibit all of the trails from opening this season.

The truth is that they look pretty darn nice for Sunday sessions via their LIVE cam, so the snow looks good!

Bryce Resort is showing a 32° reading this AM but Horst and Ryan Locher did not make snow overnight. They are open for day skiing on Sunday with 6 slopes and snow tubing. Bryce has some live cams that have a bunch of crazy design flaws, BUT you can see that they have plenty of snow and look pretty darn good for playing on today!

Massanutten has not updated their report this AM, but it is 32° and it appears that they made snow overnight but will not be doing so today. They are offering six slopes open and snow tubing today and tonight.

The Homestead is showing 30° Sunday morning and though they are not quite ready to open for skiing, they do have their beautiful ice rink and snow tubing hill open for guests.

Wintergreen Resort is at 29° this morning and Anne Marie writes, "3 more trails open today! THE HIGHLANDS will open for a “preview” today. We received just enough snowmaking weather these last two days to sneak The Highlands open. Mild weather this week will require that we close it in an effort to have it for next weekend. Come out today and enjoy it! We will ski and ride until 4:30PM today and offer tubing from 10AM until 6PM."

You "black diamond fans" should note that Wintergreen has the following black trails open today – Sunrise, Lower Wild Turkey, and Hydraulic. They also are reporting that Upper Cliffhanger (a double black) is open today. Things are looking better at Wintergreen! (Not that they were looking bad. Well. Aw, just forget I said it and go enjoy!)

Canaan Valley is at 32° this morning, a far cry milder than the 9° reading just 24 hours ago! They are reporting a base of 36" and Frozen Granular conditions on 8 trails for day skiing and snow boarding today. Tubing is open as well. Canaan is showing "Face" (one of the black diamonds) as open today.

Snowshoe Mountain is showing a low this morning of 25° and they made snow overnight. Snowshoe continues to show off by opening more trails for today as they now are showing 36 trails open for Sunday! The groomer’s choice (by the way I LIKE this new feature where their groomers advise the best terrain) is Cupp Run.

Laura Parquette writes, "With a couple days of warmer weather coming up, our snowmaking crews may get a little time off. But we’ve already begun snowmaking on all unopened terrain, and snowmaking will restart just as soon as temperatures allow. Silver Creek is set to open for the season on Dec 19th, and we should have at least 16 of 18 trails available at that time. That date will also start daily tubing and night skiing operations. With just a couple weeks to go, we’re on great pace to be 100% open by Christmas."

Timberline Resort is at 32° at 9am and they are offering 15 of 37 trails for day skiing today. Upper White Lightning is open (a black diamond trail) as are the double blacks of "Off the Wall" and "Upper Silver Streak". Timberline also reports that they made snow overnight.

Winterplace Resort is reporting 28°, sunny and beautiful for Sunday! Tehy have 12 of 28 trails open and some "cool terrain features" located on the Wanderer slope. Snowtubing is not operating for Sunday.

Wisp Resort is at 30° at 9am, but they showed a low of 25° at the summit this morning. They are reporting Groomed, Hard Packed conditions on 19 trails that are open for day skiing session only on Sunday until 5pm. They have "Mainstreet" (I REALLY LIKE THAT TRAIL) and "Squirrel Cage" (Okay, okay I like that one as well!) which are both black diamond trails open today. Mainstreet has an awesome overlook view of Deep Creek Lake down below which is often completely frozen over during the winter. We spent some time up there last winter and walked almost across the entire lake.

Anyway, Wisp’s Mountain Coaster is open for Sunday and the tubing park is closed.

Ober Gatlinburg is showing 35° this AM and they are open until 5pm today with 5 trails which includes "Mogul Ridge". The name speaks for itself, it is truly one of only a few trails in the southeast that is dedicated to you mogul lovers. Ober also offers their great ice rink for Sunday.

That’s it for now. I’ll go pour through the rest of my INBOX and share more with you guys later so check back.

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