Deepest Base Depths and Best Conditions in Many Decembers at the North Carolina Ski Areas

We have another of those pesky temperature inversion things happening again this morning in the NC Mountains. Valley temperatures are much colder than on top.

Maggie Valley, home to Cataloochee Ski Area is reporting 12° as of this writing at 7am, whereas the highest ski area, Ski Beech on top of Beech Mountain is reporting in with 29°. Another little oddity is that jumped off the weather data is that Banner Elk, which is just ten minutes away from Beech Mountain is TWENTY DEGREES COLDER than Beech Mountain this morning – with a 9° reading.  Strange but true!

Those cold temps have allowed ALL of the North Carolina ski areas to amass some of the deepest base depths that we have seen in years. It’s hard to argue whether they are altogether marketing numbers or the real thing the way Mother Nature has cooperated thus far this winter. Cataloochee, Appalachian and Sugar are all reporting AVERAGE Maximum Base Depths of over five feet.  I wish we could get a consensus on what that means. We know what it’s supose to mean, but regardless of who’s dictionary you look in – ALL of the ski areas have what may be the best snow conditions going into this all-important Holiday Season that they have seen in years. Cataloochee is saying that they have NEVER had a base depth as deep as they have RIGHT NOW and they are reporting 32-80" of base. That is saying that they have an average maximum base depth of more than 6.6 FEET of snow on all nine open trails today. Ski Beech, which is usually very conservative with their base reporting is showing the deepest base that we can remember – with a 28-40" base!

So expect a LOT of snow underfoot and some of the sweetest conditions in many Decembers for your Holiday Ski Trip.

We’ve received some emails alluding to the fact that our Photos of the Day feature was still behind.  Yes…but not for the reason you may think.  We have no bugs anymore and things are now running like the well-oiled machine that IS SkiNC and SkiSoutheast.  However, our Photos of the Day feature is important to us.  We have tons of up-to-date images that we WILL post, but we are actually re-posting ALL of the best thus far for the season.  We kept them all and we are coming up to date with each hour that passes.  If you want a treat, hit refresh often through today and you’ll see a new image posted often as we are re-compliling all of the best from all of the ski areas.  We should have them all caught up today.

On-Snow Reporters – we have not forgotten about you.  All of your reports and photos are being posted today as well and so is any points going towards our On-Snow Reporter of the year – which right now has Lorrie Tomlinson in first place, followed closely by three others.  Keep them coming and we’ll catch up today.

Cataloochee opened another trail today, as did Ski Beech.  Beech opened their Meadows Terrain area. …and Hawksnest is debuting their new Terrain Park today.

The weather is looking GREAT for skiing and riding today through the weekend and SNOW SHOWERS are still in the forecast for Christmas Day!  I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, with every turn of skiing I see. With the…

See you guys on the slopes.  I may be heading to Ski Beech tonight. I’ll be wearing a SkiNC Hoodie if anyone wants to make a few turns.

Until Next Time!

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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.