CATALOOCHEE TO OPEN WEDNESDAY AT 1PM.

11-06-2007: 4:49PM – Update:

THIS JUST IN – CATALOOCHEE IS MAKING SNOW! PLANS TO OPEN AT 1PM WEDNESDAY! Could Sugar slip in ahead and gain the honor of being the first to open?

Tammy Brown just emailed me and they began making snow 20 minutes ago at 4:30pm, and they plan to OPEN FOR THE SEASON at 1pm tomorrow. Tammy wrote, "Folks planning on coming to ski on Wednesday should call prior to noon on Wednesday for an update as to whether we are able to open or not."

WILL CATALOOCHEE BE THE FIRST IN THE EAST TO OPEN THIS SEASON???

That is debatable. Last season we credited them as being the first to have skiers come down their slopes! Woodbury Ski Area in Connecticut claimed that they were, but they had a live webcam aimed at their hill and nobody ever came down the hill on the day they said they were open! (We watched!) Not even a patroller.  So we gave that distinction to Cataloochee.  Regardless, Cataloochee was at LEAST the first ski area to open in the region (Southeast, Mid Atlantic and North Carolina.) FYI, they were also the last to close in the state of North Carolina last season.

Several people wrote me that Sunday River actually opened for one day, but there is nothing on their website about that for this season and THEY report that their opening day for the 2007-2008 season is November 9th, 2007…and since there’s no evidence on Woodbury’s website about them being open…we’re maintaining that Cataloochee may have that disctinction again this season. Fopr the record Woodbury’s webcam is showing grass today.

S-c-r-e-e-c-h! (That’s the brakes being slammed to the floor by me!)

I am going out on a limb here to say it here first that you guys should NOT be surprised if ole Gunther Jochl of Sugar Mountain doesn’t squeeze just ahead of Cataloochee for the honor of being the first ski area to open in the East.  They began making snow overnight and as of 7am this morning the slope from the mid-station up looked ready to ski on.  They are now making snow to beat the band on the lower portion…as well as up the entire 3/4th station down of Upper Flying Mile, so they COULD be ready to drop the ropes and ski by tomorrow morning! (Maybe, maybe not…so check this site AM Wednesday or call Sugar ahead…but it COULD HAPPEN!)

So expect Sugar or Cataloochee to open Wednesday…and if Sugar doesn’t open Wednesday…it may be another day or so…but the 2007-2008 ski season is UPON US. 

11-06-2007: Morning Update:

Sugar Mountain IS making snow this morning as temperatures there hover around 26°.  It’s 27° at Beech and there’s no indication that they will make snow with this shot of cold air. Snowshoe Mountain continues to make snow as well…and as far as we can tell Cataloochee has not yet pulled the trigger. We’ll be speaking with Tammy Brown over there later today and will update this report as needed.

As mentioned last night the cold is now with us for a few days before a mild-up is expected.  Snowshoe actually has 1-2" of snow forecasted for Tuesday night, with no significant accumulation expected otherwise.  Also we received a couple of reports that Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland has received a dusting of snow overnight.

Before we get too deep into this update, be sure to check out www.SkiSoutheast.com for more information about ALL of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic.

Beginning sometime during the day on Tuesday…look for the temps to drop into the low 30s and then into the low-to-mid 20s across MANY of the high elevations that make up the mountains of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic – from Western North Carolina into Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Upper Maryland (home to Wisp Resort).  Highs on Tuesday are forecasted to be in the upper 30s across the High Country areas of Banner Elk, Beech Mountain and into Maggie Valley (home to Cataloochee Ski Area) – and that cold or colder into West Virginia and Western Maryland. Lows from Tuesday through Friday night will hover around 22-24°.

Highs around Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia are forecasted to be around 26° on Tuesday with SNOW in the forecast. Very little in the way of accumulation is expected, but that’s okay, because Snowshoe WILL be continuing on their snowmaking campaign that began on Friday.  They were the first resort in the region to crank up the guns and Tuesday through Friday provides plenty of cold for that to continue.  Lows Tuesday night at Snowshoe’s 4848′ elevation should be in the TEENS!

Snowmaking Does Not NECESSARILY mean slope or resort openings!

Boy have the emails been pouring in from people wondering how many nights of snowmaking are needed for "xyz resort" to open.  Whoa!!!! Not so fast, grasshoppers!  Just because some resorts are firing some snow guns, does not mean that resorts will open sooner than their announced opening days.  While there IS some marketing mileage gained from being the first to open, not all resorts look to participate in that gameplan.  For example, just because Snowshoe is making snow (and has been since Friday) don’t look for them to open until November 21st (their announced date). 

There has been a lot of talk and messageboard posts from people excited that Cataloochee will make snow Tuesday and open Wednesday or Thursday. "Not so fast", says Tammy Brown (our resident Cataloochee Marketing babe – I mean Director.)  She emailed us that some patrollers were putting the word out that opening mid-week was a done deal, but that is not the case.  DON’T be surprised if they DO open Thursday or so…but don’t be alarmed if they don’t.

Other resorts are not planning on making snow or even thinking about opening until closer to Thanksgiving. Some resorts that have previously made snow earlier and fought to open earlier, might be playing a bit more carefully with their water supply with a good eye to the more consistent cold that comes in late November and December.  While water is not a HUGE issue, resorts are looking at making the most of 3-4 day bursts of snowmaking.  Several resort operators have told us that they will have to give their ponds time to "replentish" between stints of sustained cold and snowmaking.  Therefore look for a tendency to more "careful snowmaking" for the coming season.

So BE excited as the next week (6-7 days) looks VERY COLD, and then there looks to be a mild up for a day or so and then another blast of COLD air behind that.  We think that it may be the SECOND blast of cold air that triggers more resorts to begin their snowmaking operations for this season.  So look for a few to fire up Tuesday…more Wednesday…but more still in another week or so.

Pray for cold and snow!

Until Next Time…

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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.