The Heck with It…Let’s Just Make Some Memories…

2-4″ of SNOW in the forecast from the WV and Maryland ski resorts…and some cold air for 2-3 days…but then “beware the blowtorch?!?”

The higher elevations of Beech and Sugar could see a dusting of snow tonight or Friday.

But Then What the Heck?

For the third day in a row, I’ve tied a personal record for how quickly I was able to update the snow report. That’s because there was nothing to post and posting nothing takes no time. That is certainly a first for me personally. Typically at this time in December we’re all about checking out the growing list of slopes and trail openings at various resorts to see how much terrain will be open prior to Christmas for the huge crowds that head to the mountains for some “winter wonderland fun”.

This particular mid-December we doing a combination of seeing how many slopes and trails MIGHT be open just to get SOMETHING open for those skiers and snowboarders that either cannot or don’t cancel their lodging reservations. The other unfortunate bit of “business” that is occupying our time is keeping an eye on the weather AFTER this brief cold snap that is headed our way as things look like we’ll see highs in the low to mid SIXTIES from December 23rd through New Year’s Day. Lows during that period will be in the 40s – so it’s getting warmer…not colder.

 

A SMALL BIT OF HOPE?

Some Snow and M-A-Y-B-E Three Days of Snow-Making Ops.  Brad Panovich just updated the latest forecast for us. Man we really appreciate Brad being a part of our team and he’s doing an awesome job for us this season and you have to know that this weather is killing him as well.

When 2015-Dec-17-making-memories2we looked at the forecast for this weekend about 4-5 days ago we saw 3-4 days of frigid temps headed our way with highs in the teens and lows in the low teens for some areas like Snowshoe, Canaan, Timberline, etc. We saw highs in the low 20s for Beech. We’re STILL getting a cold blast, but the forecast for Snowshoe and the WV resorts is for snowmaking to resume sometime this evening (Thursday) as temps dip into the mid 20s. NOW – Friday and Saturday are looking like a high of 30° with lows in the mid teens. That is PLENTY cold for great snowmaking and you can bet that the crews up there will be taking every advantage of it to blast the trails and open as much terrain as possible. We’re hearing perhaps 12-15 trails or so at Snowshoe and 7-10 at Canaan and Timberline. No word yet from Winterplace.

2015-Dec-17-making-memories3The cold snap up that way looks like it should provide some around-the-clock snowmaking from tonight through early Sunday morning…but then temps start rising into the upper 40s and low 50s for Sunday afternoon and after that it looks like it will be warmer than it’s been for the last two weeks as forecasters are using words like “blowtorch” to describe the widespread warmth across the entire east coast that could make for the “Warmest Christmas Day and the Week After IN YOUR LIFETIME”.

This isn’t funny…

To make matters worse, it is NOW looking like those mild, Spring, early Summer-like temps will also be accompanied by April-like showers nearly every day after Christmas through January 1st.

…and THAT is the forecast for the colder and snowier, WV mountains.

 

A Look Into the Southern Appalachians…

Appalachian Ski Mountain may not get the snowguns turned back on until sometime LATE on Friday as the low tonight probably won’t allow for snowmaking, but they should see lows down to 22° for Friday night. Temps may only allow for snowmaking there at night both Friday and Saturday night. That’s it…. After that, there’s highs in the upper 50s and even some mid-60s for Christmas Day. It looks a bit wet for the remainder of the year.

App MAY get open for a day or two…and we have not spoken with Brad and their crew but they could see another suspension of ski ops as the Holiday week begins.

Get it? Sitting on the Snow?
Get it? Sitting on the Snow?

Beech and Sugar should be able to make snow tonight with temps dropping into the mid 20s and typically Cataloochee will see similar temps. They should be able to make around-the-clock snow all day Friday and perhaps all day Saturday. That COULD make for 48 hours of snowmaking and Cataloochee, Sugar and Beech could look good with their core slopes open and looking pretty nice for Saturday and Sunday. You might also see ALL or some of those ski areas DELAY their opening and NOT open for this weekend and opt to “SAVE THEIR BASE” for the Christmas weekend as RIGHT NOW, the forecast is for partly cloudy to sunny skies for Friday, December 25th and Saturday, December 26th.

After that? Ditto the rest of the region. We’re looking at highs in the mid-to-upper 50s and a little damp through the rest of the year.

 

Mother Nature is Just Not “A Lover of Virginia”

…if you’re into snow sports right now. Using Massanutten for a weather update…we’re seeing borderline snowmaking Friday night and a low of around 24° for Saturday night. That’s it. We plan on trying to connect with resort ops across the region to see what they are thinking, but I would not be surprised if the Virginia resorts simply have to bite the bullet and not make snow until AFTER THE FIRST OF THE YEAR.

 

A Light at the End of the Tunnel???

Brad still maintains that early in January we WILL start seeing colder air and snow. He’s still forecasting that winter will hit early in the month and start in earnest from mid January through February with plenty of cold and stormy snow conditions.

That could bode well for strong MLK and President’s Day weekends that are important to the financial health of every resort. Losing the Christmas to New Year’s week will hurt as resorts see a significant percentage of their entire season’s revenue coming within that Holiday period. We’ve seen very poor Holiday ski weeks and weekends in the past, but this one could set records.

We’re hearing from a lot of resorts that lodging/bookings are “doing o-k-a-y” but there are many people calling to question about resorts being open and cancellations are happening across the region.

I was speaking with one industry insider who asked that I not share the source of this comment, but she and I were discussing whether she had ever seen anything like what we are going through right now. She shared:

Each winter is different, but this year can certainly be compared to 1997-98 and 1982-83. The 1997-1998 season ‘featured’ an almost snowless start, with barely a few inches across most of the region.

Two winters with moderate El Niño systems, 2006-07 and 2009-10, also started out slowly, but saw major snowstorms in February. The Valentine’s Day storm in February 2007 dumped nearly two feet of snow on some parts of Vermont, while three years later a storm that become known as “Snowmageddon” spread a similar bounty across much of the region.

…Meanwhile Colorado Keeps Getting Bombed with Snow…

I mentioned more than a few times that my brother from another mother, Bill Rock and “ski area sister” Laura Parquette are seeing snowstorm after snowstorm thus far this early season out west. It’s tough to get those snow alerts via text every day or so with another 6-8-10″ of new snow and frigid temps.

I received this email from “out there” last night from Brian Dix of Denver, Colorado. He wrote,

“Man I feel bad for you guys! It’s a shame that nature has teased with temps hovering above freezing for so long, I hope Ullr starts sending powderful systems your way.

I live in Colorado and the skiing has been decent for this time of year. We still need to double our base to have enough good coverage in the trees. Almost got tripped up by a few downed logs and rocks. Almost.

Anyways, I check your reports often and I enjoy them a lot. I got hooked on this website when I moved to Wilmington a few years ago. Keep up the positive attitudes and the snow will come.”

Thanks Brian. I threw up a little bit when I read about “how tough you’re having it” with the coverage in the trees. Just kidding. We appreciate your readership and hope you’ll continue to follow us and if at all possible flap your arms and send some of that snow our way.

 

WHAT’S PERSON, FAMILY, GROUP TO DO???

Man oh Man, we’re fielding a RECORD number of emails from readers asking some of the most detailed and specific questions that we’ve ever fielded about potential slopes and trail openings on specific days at specific ski areas.

We get it. These trips are not cheap. I and a group of 14 of us went to Vail last Christmas through New Years and the costs of that trip with air-fare, lodging, and all that went with it (tickets for everyone for every day, etc.) and dining….cost us the equivalent of a kitchen makeover. It was an EPIC trip and the memories of waste-deep powder bowl skiing will last me a lifetime.

However when we discuss that trip with the kids and other family members – the things that come up most often are about things other than the snow. Okay, two or three of us rave often about the snow…but for most of the group it’s the “other things” that seem to be most discussed.

This Holiday season, I and 14 family members and friends are headed to Snowshoe, West Virginia for our ski getaway. So we’re in the same shape as many of YOU are. With lodging and lift passes for everyone, we’re looking at an expensive trip. Dining, shopping and travel will add to that bill.

Vacations for larger families or groups are a significant investment to make to make memories IF AND WHEN the conditions are pristine, snowy and winter-wonderland-like. Take away the perfect slope conditions and mix in some warm temps and perhaps some showers… and you get a recipe for cancellations.

I’ll admit that I have considered it over the last couple of days…and then I asked my daughters. Sure, they’re spoiled…but isn’t that our job to spoil our kids? As long as you balance that with everything else that goes into good parenting…I think we’re safe. However, I started my conversation with my wife and two youngest daughters about how limited the slopes will be for Christmas and about how the weather could be “the pits” and I didn’t even GET to the part about “weighing our options” and perhaps “doing something else” when I was quickly interrupted with, “We don’t care. We want to go to Snowshoe.”

So, rain, snow or whatever is coming our way next week, WE are headed to Snowshoe. One of our longtime readers, Jeffry Jackson wrote us a couple of weeks ago that he too has a trip planned to Snowshoe and he too was making the trek rain, snow, muck, whatever. He pledged to make lap after lap for each day that he’s there regardless of the conditions and what’s available.

I realize that even writing this may send some of you the message that I’m simply “shouting the party message”, but I can assure you that’s not the case. You see, I consider “making memories” an important part of my life AND an important responsibility as a parent.

Going on a ski getaway that may not include snow doesn’t HAVE to mean that you’re not going to have a great time. Spending time together playing games in the condos is awesome. Traveling and doing things off of the slopes is always a part of our getaways. We’ll just have more of those kinds of excursions that usual.

If you’re reading this today and you’re wavering on keeping your plans and heading to the mountains, with the deciding factor being “SNOW”, then I would challenge you to rethink your “vacation qualifiers”. Are you going on vacation “for the snow” or to spend time with your loved ones?

I realize that I might get an email or two from you guys in disagreement with my take on things and I’m cool with that. Bring them on. However, I would challenge you guys to stay with your plans. Take along some extra games; Google some “Things to Do” while in – WHEREVER.

We’ve had some awesome excursions just driving the roads between Snowshoe and Elkins. There are some photo ops with old West Virginia barns and Elkins has one of the coolest (AND CHEAPEST) movie theaters and bowling alleys you’ll ever visit.

Be flexible and you’ll probably make some memories that you’ll cherish for many years to come when discussing “that year when the snow wasn’t awesome, but the trip WAS.”

We’re thinking that we’ll get in some turns every day anyway…

So, the best answer to all of the emails that we’re getting – regarding conditions for the upcoming ski getaway would be:

We’re thinking that next week will offer some scenic mountains and high elevations, eclectic shops and restaurants and some daily fun for you and all who travel with you.

If there’s some snow, slopes and open terrain to ride…all the better.

Go make some memories.

 

Until next time…

Enjoy your day and THINK SNOW! THINK COLD! …and Start a Prayer effort! 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.