Don Gentry of Roanoke, Virginia wrote on Wednesday, "I’m sure that you’ve heard this before but I’ve been following your site for years now and I get the feeling that I’m reading posts written by Warren Miller. Well done and I’m sure the ski resorts love what you do. I know my wife and I do. Keep up the great work and we love the new webcams pages."
I’m never comfortable with those of you who have emailed me with Warren Miller references but after receiving more than a few lately (and since the weather has us mired within a slow day) I’m going to address those.
First thanks for being even mentioned in the same breath. While I understand those emails, Warren Miller is a giant in the industry who travels around the world and is known to millions. We’re a much "smaller fish" in a much smaller pond and the only travels that I’m doing is a rare trip out west and I’ve never been to a resort outside of the United States. I’m known to my mom, dad, brother, sisters, my four daughters and maybe to PERHAPS tens of thousands.
Miller has been involved in 750 or so sports films; he’s written several books and has had hundreds of non-fiction stories published. He’s an ICON in the industry whose films span over 50 YEARS! Yours truly? Ummmm… I’ve shot about 20 amatuerish videos with my Sony HD cam, I written NO books (although I began writing a sports fiction some seven years ago that remains only about 20% completed) and although I’ve been mentioned thousands of times in newspapers and on regional television you couldn’t drop my name to anyone outside of my office with any confidence that they’d know who the heck I am. (That might be a SLIGHT exagerration…but not by much!)
One reader wrote one comparison that I’m not all that fond of, "I followed the site for years and really like your reporting of the ski slopes. It reminds me of ANOTHER (empasized for effect) OLD GUY by the name of Warren Miller who is well known in skiing circles."
Although I have a few years on me (I’m 57), I’m a BABY compared to Warren Miller. He’ll be 86 this year and is still enjoying the snow.
So let’s summarize: The only things that I have in common with Warren Miller is that I cover skiing and snowboarding – and we both have an "M" in our names. "M" for Mike and "M" for Miller.
That’s about it my friends so hopefully that will answer those few of you who have honored me with that reference – but also stop them from coming up again…because those references are not warranted.
UPDATE: Hey M-A-Y-B-E I DO have one more thing in common with old Mr. Miller! I just checked his BIO to get his accurate age to post on this story and he’s long-winded as heck as well! (Yea, I’ve never supported the theory of less is more!
Check out his BIO! IMPRESSIVE!
BASED ON TODAY’S EMAILED QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS OVER THE WEATHER…MAYBE I’M MORE LIKE DR. PHIL!
There’s ONLY one question on your minds today. We had a few comments and video submissions sent in, but the ONLY questions emailed to us within the last couple of days are all in the basic form of "When will the rain and milder temps leave?", and "when will we see cold and snow?"
First let’s talk about what’s happening right now…
Record low pressure and snowfalls are bombing the California ski resorts. Mammoth has seen 24" of snow in the last 24 hours and 79" since January 13th! Let me repeat that for emphasis: Mammoth has seen 6.5 FEET of snow since January 13th! Several reports from that area are speaking of 52" at Kirkwood in the last 48 hours.
A couple of days ago California also reported five unique tornados or reports of waterspouts. So the moisture is REALLY getting into the U.S. via California. Before you guys start yelling, "Boy we wish we had THAT snow", you need to know that Mammoth reported 122 mph winds that accompanied that snowbomb!
Brad Panovich and other weather gurus had informed us a week or so ago that we were going to be experiencing a "split" El Niño that would take all of that moisture and split off about the time the air flows hit Texas. From there a northern track would push up and allow colder temps into the states of West Virginia and Maryland – and the Southern branch would allow somewhat milder temps from the south to push up and into North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Oh yea…the moisture from the south would ALSO be allowed into our area.
UNFORTUNATELY that forecast has come to perfect fruition and we’ve see a fair amount of rain and temperatures that have not allowed any of the ski resorts to make snow for the last eight days now. (The lone exception is up at Wisp where they HAVE made snow on each of the last two days, including this morning where the temperature there in McHenry, Maryland is 26°.
In case you didn’t notice, the eight days of mild temps and consistent drizzle and wet weather here in the southeast and mid Atlantic take us back to January 13th…precisely the same date that all that SNOW began bombing California.
The temperatures this morning are indicating that we may be seeing some signs that the pattern may be changing. Here’s the 8am temps across our region:
Beech Mountain: 39°
Sugar Mountain: 39°
Wolf Ridge: 45°
The Homestead: 26°
Canaan Valley: 26°
Snowshoe Mountain: 29°
Wisp Resort: 26°
Ober Gatlinburg: 48°
As you can see – the colder air is already filtering down into Maryland, WV and into the Virginia ski area communities.
THE FORECAST HAS SOME SKI AREAS TALKING OF SCHEDULE INTERRUPTIONS
We received word from a few people that rains and fog forced Wolf Ridge to close unexpectedly on Wednesday. We didn’t confirm that but Wolf did post that on one report so we’re guessing that took place. However, this morning they wrote, "Its Thursday morning and the forecast for the day is dropping temperatures with rain/turning to ice and possibly snow in the higher elevation. We will have 14 runs open today with 2 lifts. The upper Ski Lodge will be closed today and will re-open Friday at 4:30 for the weekend. Come out and join us for another fun day at the slopes."
Wintergreen Resort is hinting that the weather could affect their operating schedule for today. They posted, "WINTER STORM ON THE WAY! A winter storm is headed our way and could cause some operating changes if ice mixes in with snow. Call ahead for operating details."
As of 9am, the forecast looks to be "favoring" mostly drizzle for the Western North Carolina mountain for today with only some icing around the Blue Ridge. There could be some icing around Beech and possibly at the top of Sugar’s highest elevations but the call from most weather peeps is that any icing around the WNC mountains will be minimal.
The forecast into the Virginias and Maryland does look a bit icier. Wintergreen may pick up a tenth of an inch of ice and perhaps a half inch of snow according to the NWS. Snowshoe could see some icing before 5pm today and then a mix of snow and sleet up to 3" tonight.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE CHANGES? WHEN WILL GOOD WEATHER RETURN?
We’re getting there… As of the 9am forecast update things are looking pretty good for SATURDAY across the entire region. Snowshoe, Winterplace, Timberline and Canaan should see mostly sunny skies with a high near 38°! Beech should see sunny skies with highs around 46°.
So SATUR-DAY should be nice for all of those events that we’re hearing about. If the weather holds, we’ll head to the rail jam at Beech Saturday at 4pm.
Notice we stated "SATUR-DAY" will be nice. Saturday night and Sunday is looking like a wash! Some portions of our coverage area may see HEAVY RAINS and some flooding.
PAST THAT looks better and colder with some chances of snow at most all of the ski resorts. So Monday through Wednesday are looking much improved. Snowmaking ops should kick back in Monday night and we’ll see those guns cranking out some slope-improving "snowstorms" that should combine with some natural snow.
So cheer up all my forlorned friends. We’ll have to weather a few more days and it looks like Saturday will be a good day to hit the slopes.
LAURA PARQUETTE SPEAKS FOR US…
I was typing up a statement to include in today’s update to just push you guys out of your homes and onto the slopes to go play in the rain. Then I came to Snowshoe’s Laura Parquettes post this morning and she summed things up better than I could have. She posted, "…you’ll want to be sure you have a waterproof outer layer and goggles on today if you’re enjoying the slopes. The slopes remain in great shape, despite some milder temperatures and "under developed snow" over the last few days. With over 4 feet of base across our slopes, we’re able to utilize our expert grooming team whenever necessary to push snow around and ensure that we have a great surface for your skiing and riding pleasure. That means you’ll see very few thin spots across our 60 open slopes. And the great news is the overnight temperatures should be falling as we look ahead to early next week, so we’ll be able to restart overnight snowmaking and patch up those few areas that need a little TLC. But if you’re debating whether to make your way up to the mountain, DO IT! The snow is soft and carvable, and there is PLENTY of it!"
Well said Laura. You can pretty ditto her comments about plenty of snow and grooming at all of the ski areas. As you could also read between the lines, we are now beginning to see some thin areas popping up on some trails at some ski areas. There’s still PLENTY of good terrain and rare thin coverage spots…but they are now beginning to come into the picture. We’re likely to see some more before the cold weather returns. As far as snow base and coverage is concerned we’d estimate on a scale from 1 to 10 that things are still a strong "8" at most resorts meaning plenty of snow on most all trails with only a rare "blip" of thin coverage on one or two trails here and there.
Obviously ski areas like Appalachian will not be experiencing any thin areas.
In summary: Snow quality is still a strong 8 to 9 across the board.
Since we’ve been monitoring base depth reporting and drops in base, here’s the latest:
Here’s the latest in terms of base depth loss since January 13th: EIGHT DAY DROP IN BASE DEPTHS (Ranked by best reporting)
Resort 24hr / 8 day drop
Sugar Mountain: – 0" / – 25.5" (No drop today…maybe they dropped)
Ober Gatlinburg: – 2" / – 21.5"
Cataloochee: – 6" / – 20"
Appalachian: – 4" / – 16"
Beech Mountain: – 2" / – 15"
Wintergreen: – 0" / – 10"
Wolf Ridge: – 0" / – 9" (No drop in last two days)
Massanutten: – 0" / – 5"
Snowshoe Mountain: -5" / -5" (+ use of single digit reporting)
Bryce Resort: – 0" / – 0"
Canaan Valley: – 0" / – 0"
Timberline: – 0" / – 0"
Winterplace: – 0" / – 0"
Wisp Resort: – 0" / – 0"
We report, you decide. (Props to Fox News)
We’re on day 55 and there are 81 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow within this 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season.
WE’RE ON DAY 34 and 55!
We’re tracking how many days in a row that we’ve experienced measureable snow pack in the area. We’re not talking snow base at the ski areas. They’re loaded with snow! In this case we’re talking snow pack in the communities around the ski resorts.
In the Mountains of Western North Carolina (we’re tracking the High Country specifically) we’ve now had natural snow on the ground for 34 straight days. It has now snowed 18 of those 34 days. (There’s lots of snow around Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain as well as many of the surrounding communities.) If you’re headed to Wolf Ridge or Cataloochee you’ll find the same is true!)
David Lesher’s Canaan Valley / Tucker County, WV weather center has reported 55 straight days with snow on the ground and snowfall on 36 of those 55 days. That record is dittoed at Snowshoe, Wisp and Winterplace Resorts!
SSAA: 0 for 55/saphopenNOT//self 53/55