Brad Panovich’s Official Winter 2005-2006 Outlook!

Meteorologist Brad Panovich emailed his Winter 2005-2006 Outlook yesterday. He also posted it on the messageboard, but it’s a "hard read", so we’ve posted it as THE STORY of the day so with no further delay….

Here’s the OFFICIAL SkiNC / SkiSoutheast Winter Outlook for 2005-2006 for the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic

Brad is quick to preface his Winter Outlook with the statement, "This is an entire winter forecast and should not be taken as a specific forecast for an individual ski area or location for specific dates within the winter. You’ll need to visit the website and/or the messageboard for details on approaching winter storms throughout the winter."

Panovich has become a popular messageboard poster under the name "wxbrad" and you can identify his SkyMax Weather Logo. Brad is the weekend meteorologist for WCNC NBC 6 out of Charlotte and became our official weather guru last season. His forecasts were right on, with far greater accuracy and frequency than we’ve seen prior so we highly recommend that you depend on his forecasts here and if you’re in the Charlotte viewing area, catch his NBC 6 – WCNC telecasts.

Now to the Winter Outlook!

Often the best way to help forecast the future…you need to look at the past. The mid-Atlantic and Southeast saw a lame winter in 2004-2005. Last winter really didn’t get started until late January and early February. The best skiing, snow and cold actually came in early March. By that time many of the ski areas were past their peak financial dates such as the Christmas Holidays and MLK Weekend.

Appalachian Ski Mountain only saw 36" of natural snow last winter. Sugar and Ski Beech saw near normal snow depths with 70" and 84" respectively, but MOST of that came in mid-to-late February and March. Most of the North Carolina resorts reported MLK Weekend traffic off by more that 60%, with some estimates saying traffic was more like 80% off.

Wintergreen Resort in Virginia finished the season with about 57" of snow on the Winter; and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia tallied 173" on the season, which is about 90% of their normal snowfall. A lot of that came later in the season.

Will History Repeat Itself?

Brad Panovich says that he believes that the 2005-2006 season WILL repeat history…but the year repeated will more than likely be that of the 1995-1996 season. He credits the ocean temperatures and hurricanes as indicators of what we can expect for the coming season.

"This year’s forecast will be a close relative to the winter of 1995-1996. The hurricane season of 1995 saw 19 named storms and was the most active season since 1931 when there were 21 storms. The same patterns globally that leads to a active hurricane season have a connection to cold and snowy winters for the East coast of the United States. This hurricane season is set to bypass those previous hurricane season records. In the winter following the active hurricane season of 1995 the Northeast cities had snowstorm after snowstorm. In fact many cities had the snowiest winters on record."

He adds, "An active hurricane season is due to warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic and low wind shear which is associated with a large ridge over the Southeast. As is often the case with Mother Nature she likes to be in balance and equal things out and after a late summer and early fall with a ridge and lots of heat over a region it makes sense that a trough and cooler temperatures would have to replace it. That is to say you need the opposite to occur to bring things back in balance and closer to normal. So if you have a hot and dry summer and you have a cold and wet winter you end up back close to normal."

Other factors like that of warmer Atlantic water temperatures play a huge role. Since the water will remain warm or above normal temperature, (especially the Gulf Stream which runs along the east coast for the winter months) that means if you get a trough and some cold air to come down it will interact with that water and cause big east coast winter storms. Can anyone say Nor’easters?!?!?!?

Panovich sees the Winter of 2005-2006 to be AT normal to slightly below normal temperatures. Snowfall will be above normal especially in the Mid-Atlantic due to lots of coastal storms. The North Carolina mountains tend to get a glancing blow from these storms but the mountain will grab all of the moisture they need and with a damming of cold air – SNOW will be the result.

The kind of weather pattern that Panovich forecasts is great news for the Virginia and West Virginia ski areas because they typically get hammered when those kinds of ingredients occur.

Panovich warns not to expect the snows to begin in great number early in the season. He says, "These kinds of patterns usually take time to develop, so like last winter I think it won’t be until mid January and February until the snows and cold really start to crank up."

He predicts that this MLK Weekend will be great and then from that point on look for a lot of active, snowy weather. He also reminds us to expect the normal thaws in between patterns, but nothing like we had last season. He also predicts some very organized snow storms that will dump some serious snow! He states, "Snow by Winter’s end will be much higher than last year and much above normal."

That is INDEED great news to all snow lovers everywhere along the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic!

Panovich also went out on a limb a bit and actually forecasted some dates to look forward to potential COLD outbreaks and snowstorms.

He says to look forward to the following dates:

December 12, 2005 – Dec. 16,2005

December 30,2005 – Jan 2,2006

January 13-Jan 15

January 28-30

Feb 12-15

Feb 17-Mar 2

Mar. 13-16

We’ll watch, wait and see!

Brad advised us to look for a serious COOL DOWN coming as soon as this weekend.

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of, and 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.