Despite the Mild Temps and Rain of the past week, things look pretty darn nice!

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]  

Has anyone else been "hatin’ on Winter this season?

Easy now, people! I think I just started an avalanche of emails headed my way from disgruntled snow lovers within the region. I was talking with Kenny Griffin earlier in the week and he shared that he found himself having to "check his feelings of yuck at the door" often this winter as he’d sit down to do the morning blog. Conditions certainly have been challenging to say the least across the region but what Kenny was referring to is that this winter has been even more challenging than usual because we are reporting from south of the line of where all of the better weather has been this season.

Typically the High Country mountains will see temps that are right about on par with low and high temps that we’ll see for Wisp Resort in Maryland, and only about 3-5° above those at Timberline, Snowshoe and Canaan Valley ski areas. The high elevations of Banner Elk, Sugar and Beech Mountains are nearly always a few degrees colder than those that you’d normally witness at Winterplace Resort just over the Virginia/West Virginia state line.

<Although things are pretty good across the entire southeast and mid Atlantic there is no question that the temps have been colder into WV and Maryland this season. This photo of Winterplace this morning shows nearly pristine snow up that way!

Not so this season as almost all season long there seems to be a dividing line of temperatures that runs nearly right along the VA/WV line where every ski resort above that is seeing temperatures and snowfall that are just simply better than all of the resorts south of that line.

This morning we’re seeing lows that are pretty consistent across the region. Nearly all of the ski resorts were hovering around 30° when I posted the snow report. The coldest temp was at Timberline Resort (in West Virginia) with a 24° reading. The Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina resorts were all hovering around 29-31° and Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee was actually a degree MILDER than 24 hours ago – which is hard to believe.

GROUNDHOG DAY IS APPROACHING – WILL THE SWITCH FLIP BACK?

Last season was also a strange one, but I think we’d all take last year’s ski and snowboarding season’s oddities. The first half of last winter was one of the coldest and snowiest on record. Up until Groundhog Day of last winter, meteorologists were ready to anoint the 2010-2011 season as the best/worst (depending on your perspective).

Then that furry pest came out of his hiding place and proclaimed an early Spring and from that DAY on – all hell broke loose. It barely snowed anymore past February 2nd and it was indeed mild as ski areas called it quits early, etc.

The short range forecast for the next week shows six out of the next ten days of snowmaking opportunities up around the West Virginia ski resorts with perhaps some snow showers late in the week.

As we look southward around Basye, Virginia (home to Bryce Resort) we’re seeing a forecast that includes maybe 2-3 nights of snowmaking ops, but also some 63° HIGHS for next Wednesday. Tuesday looks like a GREAT day for golf or tennis with sunny skies and highs around 61° forecasted.

My peeps around Sugar, Beech and the North Carolina mountains are looking at a forecast of maybe 3-4 nights of snowmaking (tonight and Sunday night should be around 21-22°!) however highs in the mid to upper 50s are forecasted mid week as well.

So much for the Accuweather Winter Forecast that was posted October 13, 2011 wherein they stated, "The AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team is predicting another brutally cold and snowy winter for a large part of the country, thanks in large part to La Niña… yet again."

Yeesh! You have to give them credit for keeping that page LIVE. See it, maps and all at: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/accuweathercom-winter-20112012/55890  

WE’RE PREDICTING THE PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL WILL SEE HIS SHADOW NEXT WEEK!

To heck with Superbowl Predictions! What’s more important – some actual WINTER or some replay of a Superbowl match from a few season’s ago!?!?!  We’re the first to bet (I think) that the furry critter will see his shadow signalling six more weeks of winter. Actually in our case that will signal at least SOME winter since there hasn’t been any really.

(Hint: we’re taking our betting sheet right from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.)

FARMER’S ALMANAC GETS IT…

I tell you who I’m sticking with from now on. Forget the woolly worm, gophers and quirky weather gurus… I’m sticking the folks at the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Damn if year after year they get it right. Nearly six months ago they pretty much nailed this winter thus far.

What do they say about the rest of the winter?

Jan 22-26: Snowy periods north; showers, mild south;
Jan 27-31: Snow showers, cold.

FEBRUARY 2012: temperature 23° (5° below avg.); precipitation 3" (0.5" above avg.);

Feb 1-6: Snow showers, very cold;
Feb 7-9: Sunny, mild;
Feb 10-14: Snow, then flurries, cold;
Feb 15-22: Snow showers, very cold;
Feb 23-25: Sunny, mild; Feb 26-29: Rain to snow.

That looks decent to me. How about you guys? I’ll take a ONE MONTH reprieve from the less than winter-like conditions.

I DO hope they are wrong about the summer forecast though! They predicting a much cooler summer and I don’t know about the rest of you by I want some summer lake weather!

This past week’s rains and mild temps have really not made too much of an adverse effect on things with the lone exceptions of Sapphire Valley in lower North Carolina – which CLOSED yesterday. They hope to reopen.

Ober Gatlinburg is fighting the fight and reporting bare spots but they are doing well despite early Summer-like temps.

We saw some drops by as much as 10" of base depth across some of the Virginia ski areas yet most everyone is holding up pretty well.

The education right now has to be aimed at letting you guys know that there is PLENTY of base depth down at most all of the ski areas in the region. We KNOW that is hard for you guys off the mountain to believe. However with all of the LIVE cams running now…and especially the streaming cams, you don’t have to believe anything except your own eyes. Things look darn good out there today.  Check out www.HighCountryWebCams.com

We implore you guys to get in your car and head to the mountain today and enjoy a short getaway. There’s lots going on and the amount of snow on the slopes will surprise you. Snowshoe has their HUGE WV Open going on this weekend so that would be the top choice for an assortment of happenings…but there’s fun to be had all across the snow covered slopes closest to you!

Here are some notables for today:

Appalachian – 31° – 100% with a reported base of 35-67"

Beech Mountain – 32° – 11 of 15 trails and ice skating. They ARE MAKING SNOW!

Cataloochee – 35° – 13 of 16 trails – They are making snow this morning. Advising guests, "Colder temperatures are moving into the area this weekend and we plan to begin snowmaking as quickly as temperatures begin to drop. Although we do not like to make snow on guests during skiing hours, we will continue snowmaking as long as temperatures allow throughout the day and evening. Please come prepared wtih hats, goggles and warm outer gear for these types of skiing conditions if we are able to begin to make snow."

Sapphire Valley – 33° – Closed due to rain and warm weather. Says they will reopen as soon as they can make snow. We are hearing from a new source at the resort that will be coming online soon to be able to provide us with good, daily content from Sapphire…complete with new web cam.

Sugar Mountain – 30.3° – 15 of 20 trails, tubing and skating open. They are making snow.

Wolf Ridge – 33° – 8 of 22 trails open and tubing. Not making snow.

Bryce Resort – 32° – 100% open with tubing as well. They look quite nicely groomed this morning and ready for play. They are not making snow this morning.

Massanutten Resort – 34° – 10 of 14 trails and 10 lanes of tubing are open. They are not making snow. We were watching the Massanutten Resort Streaming cam last night and things were pretty nice! Check out the live cam showing good conditions this morning at: http://www.highcountrywebcams.com/webcameras_massanutten.htm  

The Homestead – 29° – 6 of 10 trails open and tubing as well. We’re excited to announce that we are currently coordinating the installation of a new streaming camera at The Homestead Resort with Marketing Director, Matt Fussell. Matt’s an old Boone, NC business owner who is now working with Virginia ski resort. We will be seeing a lot more daily content coming from The Homestead beginning next week.

Wintergreen Resort – 29° – 14 of 26 trails and tubing open. No snowmaking happening there or anywhere in Virginia this morning. They do anticipate making snow tonight.

Canaan Valley – 26° – 13 of 39 trails open as well as tubing and ice skating. If you’re hitting Canaan’s website and getting a "Bandwidth Limit Exceeded" error – they are working on things. Canaan is making snow and looking great this morning.

Snowshoe Mountain – 27° – No report of snowmaking but they did see a TRACE of natural snow. The Shoe has 53 of 60 trails open with tubing and snowmobiling and tons of other Village fun to be enjoyed. They host the WV Open this weekend which is something I wish we were doing this weekend!

Snowshoe writes, "The temperatures have dropped and we saw a trace amount of snow in the last 24 hours. There is a chance of snow today before 4 pm with a high of 36. We have 211 acres of terrain available including three parks, Cupp Run and Upper Shay’s Revenge. The Mountaineer Parks crew will start building Spruce Glades next week to complete all 26 acres of freestyle terrain. Race practice will be held on Bear Claw this morning, which will open to the public at 11:00 am. Mountaineer park will be closed today for competition, but access to the airbag demo will be available.

The US Airbag team is here! The airbag demo is open to the public today from 12:00 pm-9:00 pm on Mountaineer at Silver Creek. The fee for use is $5 for 2 jumps, $10 for 5 and $25 for 15. Come check it out, your soft landing awaits! Airbag use is weather dependent.

The day has come! The WV Open will be held today on Mountaineer at Silver Creek. Registration is from 12:00 pm-2:00 pm, practice from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm and the competition begins at 5:00 pm. Come check out some great freestyle riding and support our Mountaineer Parks crew! "

Timberline Resort – 24° – Making snow on some trails and they are report 7/10th of an inch of snow this morning and 26 of 40 trails open as well as the terrain parks. Timberline quietly operates one of the best mountains in the region as On The Snow users voted Tom Blanzy’s resort their favorite downhill terrain in the Mid Atlantic region. I know several resort managers who have told me that they’d love to have some of Timberline’s terrain. They have a great streaming webcam but terrible internet so we’re working on tweaking that image size. Lots of people are already hitting the slopes there this morning. See: http://www.highcountrywebcams.com/webcameras_timberline.htm  

Winterplace Resort – 29° – 25 of 27 trails open and terrain parks and tubing. They are looking MARVELOUS this morning. We have to tell you that our favorite live streaming camera is right here at winterplace. Our visitors are voting it the best as well with their visitation of this great shot. See: http://www.highcountrywebcams.com/webcameras_winterplace.htm  

The camera is showing AWESOME conditions at the Ghent, WV ski resort.

Wisp Resort – 31° – 25 of 32 trails open and ice skating, tubing and their sweet mountain coaster – as well as terrain parks.

Ober Gatlinburg – 42° – 5 of 9 trails open with some thin cover reported and no snowmaking. Ice skating and tubing are open!

Ober hosts the Special Olympics TN Winter Games Opening Ceremonies beginning at 9:30am on Monday, January 30th.

Check the snow report page for all of the resort slope conditions at a glance. See: http://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php  

Email me if you like at [email protected] . I always like getting your comments.

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