Might We Be Witness to a Christmas Washout?

Good Grief…This Dog Just Keep Getting Kicked

…we don’t know what to say except that data keeps coming in that just simply put, isn’t good news at all. Earlier this morning we were reporting those resorts and ski areas that were open NOW and potentially those that would be open for the Holidays…while keeping an eye on the rainy weather that is coming into the area later this evening, all day Wednesday and into Thursday.

Heavy Rains...heavier than first expected...are in our forecast
Heavy Rains…heavier than first expected…are in our forecast

Things are “very challenging” to say the least with only a fraction of the region’s ski areas operating right now with skiable terrain…and limited terrain at that.

There are CURRENTLY ELEVEN ski areas open and operating. Those are:

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Beech Mountain Resort
Canaan Valley Resort
Cataloochee Ski Area
Ober Gatlinburg
Snowshoe Mountain
Sugar Mountain Resort
Timberline Resort
Wintergreen Resort
Winterplace Resort
Wolf Ridge Resort

We mentioned earlier that based on current slope openings, base depth and current conditions – that some of the “best bets” to continue operations throughout this week, weekend and potentially through the end of the year were:

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Beech Mountain Resort
Canaan Valley Resort
Cataloochee Ski Area
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
Winterplace Resort

However, IF the current weather alerts hold true, THREE or MORE of those ski areas on the “Best Bets” list may be in jeopardy of having to suspend operations as we just received an updated alert from the National Weather Service in Blackburg, Virginia.

2015-Dec-22-rain002

Read it…

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BLACKSBURG VA
TUE DEC 22 2015

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTH CENTRAL NORTH
CAROLINA…NORTHWEST NORTH CAROLINA…SOUTH CENTRAL
VIRGINIA…SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA AND WEST CENTRAL VIRGINIA.

DAY ONE…TODAY AND TONIGHT.

A PERIOD OF MODERATE TO HEAVY RAINFALL WILL BEGIN LATE TONIGHT AND
WILL CONTINUE INTO THURSDAY.

DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY.

WEDNESDAY INTO THURSDAY…MODERATE TO HEAVY RAIN WILL
CONTINUE…WITH RAINFALL TOTALS OF TWO TO THREE INCHES ARE EXPECTED.
THIS AMOUNT OF RAIN COULD LEAD TO SMALL STREAM OR MAIN STEM RIVER
FLOODING.

THERE IS AN ISOLATED THREAT FOR STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ON THURSDAY.

 

Guys if THIS holds true we’re thinking that all bets are off as to whether or not there will be any appreciable snow left at Appalachian, Beech or Cataloochee…or possibly at any ski area.

2015-Dec-22-rain003

We checked to same forecast period for the WV ski areas and while there IS rain in the forecast, we are not seeing the 2-3″ deluge.

However, we also just heard from Washington, DC meteorologist, Mike Stinneford of WTOP-FM. Mike is a longtime reader/follower of SkiSoutheast.com and he shared the following:

Been looking at your site today…looks brutal out there. Wanted to let you know that you could see some heavy thunderstorms tomorrow and again on Thursday. Some areas could see 1 to 2 inches of rain by late Thursday. I doubt you’re going to see much good skiing left after the slopes get worked over by these rains. Still thinking you may get a brief outbreak of cold air by late next week.

As you mentioned in your update, some very cold air bottled up in far northern Canada. No means to transport that cold air southward in the short term.

Talk to you in a couple of days.

Mike Stinneford

In the interest of being open, fair and honest…it is beginning to look like things are going from bad to worse for the next few days and potentially for any Christmas or Christmas weekend skiing. It IS POSSIBLE that Snowshoe and perhaps Cataloochee (and MAYBE another resort or two) MIGHT have a few trails open, but it is also looking quite possible that we may see an unprecedented suspension of resort ops for the Christmas to New Year week.

There STILL appears to be a cold snap hitting with some snowmaking temps and natural snow around New Years Eve and New Years Day…and that IS something to look forward to. Right now I am certain that TENS OF THOUSANDS of travelers are now second (and third) guessing about heading to the mountains.

Quite frankly we’ve never seen a December quite like it.

The hope right now is that the resorts that are open will escape lots of rain damage and be able to stay open. That is looking pretty suspect right now.

We’ll have to see how these next few days play out and of course all of the ski areas are great at “playing the cards that they’re dealt” and they will react as they always do. They will see what “mother nature” hands them and then formulate a strategy to fight with or against “her” to get a good product ready as soon as they can for that NEXT week or weekend and beyond.

If things hold true to what we’re seeing headed our way right now, we are talking about this all-important Christmas-to-New-Years week being a literal wash out and so we’ll have to hope for a very good January through late March. With the long range forecasts calling for big snows and isolated bursts of cold air – it sounds like we’re hoping for some well-timed cold snaps and snows that guarantee cold and snowy weekends. We can hope that the predicted thaws come from Sundays to Tuesdays and the cold temps and snow hits every Wednesday through Saturday.

Hey if we’re going to hope…we might as well be specific about it, right?

So – unfortunately the news is not good for the next few days and I guess we’ll just see when the “floods” disperse what we’re left with.

Keep the faith my friends…

Until next time…

Enjoy your day and THINK SNOW! THINK COLD! Email me anytime and about anything at: [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.