It IS what it IS…and Right Now it Isn’t. Maybe it Will Be Soon!

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]

Is that title confusing enough? The short summary is that today there are NO ski areas open. None. Nada. Tomorrow? We’re kinda, sort of thinking…oh well, no we don’t think any ski area will be open on Thursday. Maybe Friday. Maybe Saturday. Read on.

10am UPDATE:  SNOWSHOE WILL NOT BE OPENING TOMORROW!!!

Less than an hour ago we reported that Snowshoe might just be the only ski area open on Thursday or this weekend. I just got the call from Snowshoe’s Vice President and Marketing Director, Mark Glickman. The basics are:

"Mother Nature has dealt us a bad hand over the last 36 hours. We’ve received 2.5 inches of rain and the conditions that looked so terrific on Saturday have now become unmanageable. We’re sad to say that we’re not opening tomorrow for skiing. However, the holiday weekend at Snowshoe will still be packed with fun with the Village shops, restaurants, Split Rock Pool and the Big Top open. We will release an updated event schedule for the holiday weekend this afternoon.

We will also keep everyone informed on the efforts of our snowmaking team and a new opening date as we go forward, so please stay tuned. Guests with reservations for this weekend will have the opportunity to re-book at the same lodging rate for later in the season (except 12/21-1/1/12 and 1/13-1/15/12 and 2/17-19/12 ). Our reservation specialists are currently contacting everyone with reservations for this weekend. For more information, please call 877-441-4386."

That said, don’t head to Snowshoe if you’re looking to ride the snow Thursday through Sunday. It isn’t happening. This situation is so fluid that while I was typing this update, Joe Stevens, the official spokesperson for the West Virginia Ski Areas was emailing me announcing Snowshoe’s OPENING. The decision was just made and now Mark Glickman and his staff are hustling to get the message out.

JUST SAYING…

If you guys think our reporting is way too full of "maybe’s and hopefully’s" you should check out the statements coming from further Northeast into Vermont.

Sugarbush President Win Smith’s does a blog recently it was entitled “…but…if…may…” and it illustrated the difficulties facing Northeastern ski areas as well as those of us here in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic.

Within his blog/statement was the following remark:

“We are HOPING to open Thanksgiving Day BUT we will make the call Wednesday morning,” Smith wrote. “If we get the forecasted 6-8" of wet snow tonight and tomorrow, we MAY be able to open Thanksgiving Day.” In an e-mail, Mount Snow wrote, “Regardless of what Mother Nature has in store for us between now and then, this weekend is going to be a full plate of fun with all the fixin’s!”  – No mention of whether they’d be skiing or riding.

You can really ditto those remarks for those of us here in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. Mark Glickman’s call this morning triggered many people to scramble to change up plans, etc. So while Snowshoe’s definately not going to be skiing or riding this early, Holiday season, there are STILL some "maybe’s and hopefully’s" in the mix. Sugar and Cataloochee are still holding out some hope that they could make some Turkey Day skiing and snowboarding happen.

<Sugar this AM…

Around 10pm or so last evening a line of moderate to heavy rain had made its way across Grandfather Mountain and was now drilling the windows on the back side of my home. I quickly thought about whatever snow was left on the slopes at Sugar and Cataloochee ski resorts. One glance at the live webcams at each of these ski areas will tell you that we won’t be skiing or snowboarding Wednesday.

There IS a slimmer of hope that the temps could dip just low enough to make snow. We’ll cover that in a second, but first here are the official statements from Cataloochee and Sugar:

SUGAR:

"The ski slopes are currently closed and we hope to re-open again later this week. Ice Skating will be open for sessions today at 10am and 12pm. Wednesday, November 23, 2011 sessions will be at 10am, 12, and 2pm. Thursday, November 24 through Sunday November 27th, sessions will be at 10, 12, 2, 4, 6, and 8pm."

CAT:

"Colder temperatures have not returned as anticipated and we will not operate as planned on Wednesday, November 23 and will make a decision as to operations on Thanksgiving Day based on our ability to make snow and on temperatures on Wednesday evening. Persons planning on skiing Cataloochee on Thursday and the following days should check back with us daily after 5pm as to snowmaking and weather conditions."

So as you can see, they ARE ready and willing. We have to wait and see if EITHER ski area is able to make snow.

THE FORECAST…

Things don’t look all that great for snowmaking anywhere in the region. I always view a number of sources and do my best to compile all of them with a slight tweak towards slightly cooler air at the high elevations atop Cataloochee and Sugar. With that in mind, we COULD see temps dip as low as 31° tonight and perhaps a notch cooler to 29° at Sugar and Cataloochee over the Wednesday and Thursday night period. Believe it or not Snowshoe is only a degree different through the period. High temps will be in the upper 40s today and Thursday and then into the mid 50s Friday and Saturday up at Snowshoe. Tonight and Thursday night will offer the ONLY nights with a possibility of any snowmaking. Temps will mild up for days past that.

Things are SOOOOO borderline as per snowmaking at all three ski areas, I’d have to say that I just don’t see Sugar and Cat being able to make enough snow on either of these two nights to get reopened. They both did a crazy, great job of opening with less than 24 hours of snowmaking last weekend, but those temps were much more suitable for cranking out the snow.

IT COULD HAPPEN…but as Tammy Brown at Cataloochee recommended…just keep checking back. Right now, we’re thinking this weekend will be great for watching football, overeating and then playing the waiting game til ski and snowboarding season REALLY gets started. If you just HAVE to hit the snow, then the best odds are for you to make the drive to Pocahontas County, West Virginia. It will be well worth the $20 and you can get in some Black Friday shopping in their village shoppes, etc.

IS GOOD WEATHER NEWS ON THE HORIZON???

We think so! I’m being told that more consistent cold temps are heading our way as early as Monday of next week. The highs for Tuesday, November 29th are forecasted to be in the upper 30s with lows in the mid to upper 20s. From then through at least Friday, December 2nd, we’re seeing lows each night in the mid to upper 20s. With some luck we should see snowmaking on each of those evenings. If that weather pattern holds, you can expect nearly EVERY SKI RESORT in the region to crank up just about every piece of snowmaking equipment they have at their disposal.

So perhaps the real start to our ski and snowboarding season is indeed upon us. Keep checking back daily and we’ll give you latest, best information about what and where everything is happening.

Th-tha-that’s all folks…for now anyway. If we get a freak snowstorm we’ll update you, otherwise check back in the AM to see if we have any good news to report about Sugar or Cat making snow.

Feel free to drop me an email with your comments, questions, thoughts or just to send me money (just kidding) to: [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.