Here we go, Dave’s raves, and rants, and raves, and some more rants.
What a weather roller coaster we have been on here in the last few weeks. Cataloochee opened on November 4th for their earliest opening ever. They shocked every area in the Southeast with that and most of the skiers too. Pundits said they would never be able to maintain it, but they opened for the two weekends afterward without being able to make any additional snow, and opened for semi-normal operations just after Thanksgiving. Sugar and Appalachian opened just before Thanksgiving but they both had to close after that weekend. Sugar reopened a bit later and has been open fairly consistently since then. That would be the good news from the early part of the season.
The bad news. What is up with the weather roller coaster we have been on lately? 30’s to 70’s to 50’s to 40’s to 30’s to 60’s!?!?! I know you have been watching the weather as closely as I have and seen snowmaking temperatures in the long range forecast disintegrate into just barely above freezing temperatures when the weather system got here, temperature inversions when we really did get the cold weather predicted, and record high temperatures, and thunderstorms and high winds the rest of the time. The skiing that we have had hasn’t been great by any standards and has generally followed a pattern of deteriorating from good to just barely passable, but at least the resorts have been open so that skiers could make the choice whether to go or not.
The good news. We are looking at a good long lived cold weather pattern coming into our area for the next week to 10 days. That should give all the areas a chance to really lay down a good base and get some additional terrain open. There are even a couple days in the forecast with some chance of natural snowfall.
Some more bad news. As the trend has been so far this year though, it hasn’t come in as strongly as predicted. To the best of my knowledge, only Beech and Sugar have been able to consistently make snow in the last 24-48 hours. Appalachian and Cataloochee have been able to make some snow, but far less than they really needed to make and that the forecasted temperatures would have indicated. All of the resorts should be geared up to go as soon as the temperatures drop though, I think (and really, really, hope) that the temperatures and weather go as forecasted for the next 10 days. The ski areas need it to get some terrain opened up, the communities around the ski areas need it to get geared up for the holidays, and I need it so I can stop watching the weather so closely and know that the resorts have the slopes covered and a sufficient base to weather through the inevitable warm spells that come through the winter.
And finally, to end on a good note; I went skiing today at Cataloochee during their Can-U-Ski Food & Winter Coat Drive. More bad news, good news; Cataloochee was only able to make minimal amounts of snow the last two nights and as a result were operating on only one lift and two slopes. It was very crowded for the terrain that was open. However, those crowds all brought canned goods and coats for people who are in much greater need than most or all of us reading this. And if you really think about it, that is a much more worthy cause than more snowmaking and more terrain openings.
See you on the slopes.