Cheer Up, Your Christmas Ski Getaway is Looking S-W-E-E-T!

I have often alluded to how we come up with what the "subject of the day" is going to be, but it bears repeating. Your emails, the comments on the messageboard and discussions that we have with area ski managers tend to drive what it is that we write about on a daily basis. Stating that – TODAY’S post was simple to come up with. In one form or another almost all of the emails related to two subjects:

1. The weather sucks…

2. When will it snow again or the snowguns be able to make snow and open more slopes?

There was a couple of emailers asking the usual, "I and my five year old are wanting to ski on January 21st. Where will it be snow?"

For today, I’ll simply dodge the last question and hit the other ones head on. First, yep the weather could be colder and snowier, but it isn’t. Thankfully that’s coming Sunday.

As to question number 2 – We thought that we should share some spirits-lifting information with those of you who are planning ski getaways for the coming week and post Christmas weekend. Every year those of us who have Christmas / New Year getaway plans book the reservations ahead and then start hoping, praying, worrying, praying some more and wishing that our trip will be spiced with wonderful weather, cold temps and even the slightest bit of God’s natural snowfall. We all hope, pray and envision the kind of trip that is laced with some fresh powder, snowball fights, and "Currier & Ives" worthy Kodak moments. We all know that those kinds of conditions make for some memorable times and after all – that IS what we invest our time and money in hopes of experiencing on these trips. We all want to do what my sweet mother always says – "Make Memories".

We are literally a week away from Christmas so I thought that we’d share some positive thoughts and some VERY GOOD NEWS that will hopefully lift your spirits and get you guys STOKED about your particular ski getaway.

Read each carefully…and B-E-L-I-E-V-E !!!

1. TODAY THROUGH SATURDAY: While conditions today and this weekend are not pristine – there is snow in which to play and ride on at all ski areas that are open. (If a resort is open, they have snow and skiable terrain. Only Ober Gatlinburg and Sapphire Valley are closed due to the weather. All others have plenty of skiable snow and most only have a very few thin coverage areas or bare spots.)

2. TODAY THROUGH SATURDAY: We’re going to get some more rain from Maryland through all of the North Carolina resort areas. HOWEVER the rainfall expected should be in the tenths-to-quarter-of-an-inch variety and NOT the soaking, snow-damaging variety of rain. If you already have a trip planned for this weekend, I’d say keep the plans in tact and go enjoy yourself. Some of the Saturday and Sunday rainfall is forecasted in the 20% range so there will be some periods of fun!

3. TODAY THROUGH SATURDAY: Resorts will lose another couple of inches of base depth. We have been monitoring base depths for the last two weeks and resorts were reporting bases that would cover a 6’2" man with snow – with 2" to spare. That’s 76" of snow for those of you who don’t want to do the math. The deepest base that we see this morning is at Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina which is reporting a maximum base of 57". So within the last two weeks App has lost 19" of base. Most resorts are reporting another 2"-5" drop in base depths from 24 hours ago and that trend WILL continue for the next three days. Additional drops will make for a few more bare spots and thin coverage areas at many resorts. Ski Beech is already reporting some, though they’re in pretty good shape. Some resorts such as Appalachian will be "best bets" for this weekend. Resorts in West Virginia have not had quite the mild temps that the NC, VA and TN resorts have seen and are simply in better shape right now.

Side note: This morning we monotored 30° readings at Snowshoe, 32° at Timberline and Canaan, and 33° at Wisp – while temperatures were in the 46°-50° range across the North Carolina mountains. That’s unusual but it’s been an unusual few days.

4. SNOWMAKING CREWS: We have sung the praises of our snowmaking crews at all of the ski areas for the last several years. These hard-working souls have had a lot of time off lately and they are armed and ready to work around the clock as soon as the temperatures allow.

(Remember I said that we would be sharing some spirits-lifting, good news??? Here it comes!)

5. COLD AND SNOW IS ON THE WAY!!! The snowmaking crews will assemble, begin pulling hoses around and crank them up sometime on Sunday! With lows Sunday night forecasted to drop into the 13° range in West Virginia and mid teens into the North Carolina Mountains – at some point late on Sunday afternoon MASSIVE amounts of manmade snow will begin to re-blanket the slopes at your favorite resort. Highs on Monday will remain cold enough to potentially make snow around-the-clock and well into Tuesday. Some of the resort areas might have a short period Tuesday where they can’t make snow, but resorts into WV and Maryland will have sustained cold to allow for around-the-clock snowmaking even all day Tuesday, Tuesday night and Wednesday. All of the ski areas are looking at a bit of natural snow within the forecasted period. Christmas Eve and post Christmas weekend is looking seasonably cold with some additional chances of snow!

The frigid temps and continued snowmaking ops, combined with some natural snow, will make for a gorgeous week of snowy fun and vastly improved conditions. It is VERY important to understand that the huge improvements in the technology of snowmaking has made it such that resorts began the season back in OCTOBER by making snow for TWO NIGHTS before opening from top to bottom. Another way to visualize what we’re trying to say is to understand that prior to cranking up their snowmaking equipment, there was NO SNOW on the slopes and yet 24-48 hours later – we could ski!

RIGHT NOW – there is a LOT of snow at your favorite ski hill and with the snowmaking ops coming in on Sunday and into the week ahead – conditions will look downright pristine!

Tammy Brown of Cataloochee supported this sentiment with her comments this morning, "Please remember with Cataloochee’s continued investment in the latest in snowmaking technology and capacity, our automatic system can literally allow us to open additional terrain and regain our base depth in one night."

So cheer up and quit worrying about the week ahead. Enjoy your Christmas with family and friends and just know that the week ahead is looking quite nice and your ski getaway will be s-w-e-e-t.

Check the slope reports page for all of the slope openings, surface conditions, etc.

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]

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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.