Light Snow was Falling this morning at Ski Beech; Conditions are Pretty Darn Good for President’s Day Weekend

Some people will argue that we should never use "qualifying statements" when we report on conditions. It would be easy to say something like "Conditions look GREAT today – considering the mild weather of late". We are reporting "Pretty Darn Good Conditions" for today, because that IS what you’ll find no matter where you head to ride today.  Yes, it has been mild, but the ski areas really made so much snow during the last cold stretch that they were able to hold on to a good base and push that snow around to create those "pretty darn good" conditions for this weekend.

So while we’d all like to see Powder and what we’d all claim to be excellent conditions this weekend – that isn’t what we have.  What we DO have though is really pretty darn good conditions and all of the ski areas have done a great job of maintaining and working with what they have to create a very nice product for us to play on this weekend.  While ALL get good grades, i have to report that our staff is MOST IMPRESSED with the job that Ski Beech did in the last two days!  More bragging on them in a moment…

It is snowing up at Ski Beech right now (7:32am) as I was watching that LIVE on the new SkiNC / Beech Alpen webcam. We zoomed it in a bit to show all of Upper Shawneehaw and you can see the flakes flying!

We looked around the live cams at several other locations and we could see a few flakes up at the top of Sugar Mountain but that was it. None of the ski areas were able to MAKE snow last night or this morning. It seems Ma Nature can drop a bit of natural snow at slightly milder temperatures than we can. A look around the region at the many posted weather stations shows that temps are just above the needed range to make snow.

At 7:45am this morning Beech is showing 35°, Sugar 37°, Cataloochee 39°, and Wolf is reporting 37°.

Whatever falls from the sky this morning will be very light (almost nonexistent) so go out and hit the slopes today. Looks like we’re in for another mild day and it will be cloudy. Sunday is looking a bit colder and the snowmaking crews will get back to work late in the evening on Sunday as temps are forecasted to drop into the low 20s. There is some chances for a dusting of snow Sunday evening and then Monday should be gorgeous with highs in the low 30s and temperatures are expected to go into the teens Monday night. That is great snowmaking temperatures. So as forecasted – this should be a good weekend of skiing for the last of the holiday ski weekends. Skier visits should be pretty heavy for all of the North Carolina ski areas.

Ski conditions will be pretty darn nice (yep, I said it again) no matter where you go as Beech was able to make some snow Thursday night and Friday morning – so that helped them a bit and they – and all of the ski areas have groomed up some nice surfaces to play on and things should look pretty good no matter which ski area you’re at this weekend.

Additional good news is the fact that we are only about 3° milder than normal for today and then we’re looking at a week of slightly colder than normal temperatures – with the possible exception of Tuesday of next week. Even BETTER news is that all of the ski areas should be able to make more snow four out of the next five nights and THEN it gets even colder with some chances of natural snow as well. So skiing and snowboarding gets even better as we move through the next few days at all of the North Carolina ski areas.

Since we are about through with this latest mild stretch of days it is great to report that all of the ski areas made it through with pretty good conditions and most of the slopes still open.

Appalachian Ski Mountain is still 100% open and with perfect conditions (soft but perfect) with both terrain parks open and ice skating and perfectly groomed conditions to begin the day. (10 trails open and reporting a base of 71-96")

Cataloochee Ski Area is 100% open as well with all 14 trails and snow tubing open. They are reporting a base of 34-84" and groomed conditions. They look really quite nice via their live cam this morning.

Ski Beech – These guys really did an almost miraculous job of snow maintenance to make for a great weekend of skiing at Beech. On Wednesday and Thursday they were beginning to really look rough and after one evening of snowmaking Thursday night and Friday morning – and after some talented grooming…they really look quite nice for today. They are reporting a base of 30-60" and a "groomed and granular" surface with 11 trails open today. The entire front of the mountain is open except for Upper Southern Star. Great job Beech.

Sugar Mountain is looking quite nice today with 100% of their mountain open (all 20 trails) and snow tubing, skating and this evening from 4:00-6:00pm, you can enjoy the acoustic sounds of North Carolina High Country bluegrass by BOSS HAWG in the main cafeteria of the base lodge. Sugar is reporting a base of 36-72".

Wolf Ridge Resort is reporting 12 trails open for today with what they are still calling "Wet Granular" conditions today. I’d expect that conditions there are much the same as you’ll find elsewhere where we’re calling it Groomed and Granular. We watched them grooming a bit so expect a nice day at Wolf. They are reporting a base of 50-70".

We’ve noticed a trend this season that more and more ski areas have seemed to implement more than we’ve seen in past seasons. Some ski areas have been closing up a trail or two during the week that might have minimal base coverage and then reopening it as they get into the all-important weekend ski sessions. We’ve seen this often in the past after snowmaking took place, but in this case we are alluding to trails that are reopening after no snowmaking took place. Wolf did this today as yesterday they were reporting 10 trails open and today they have 12 trails open and yet no snowmaking took place last night. It is a smart move, we’ve just not seen as much of this practice in the past – as we’re seeing this season.

Obviously most of the ski areas want to give mid week guests as much terrain as possible to ride, but it really makes sense to save marginal covered slopes for the more important weekend traffic. We’ve seen this practiced a bit more at some of the larger resorts into West Virginia and Maryland – but the principle works when needed at any resort.

Sapphire Valley finally filed a report after being quiet all week. That’s probably the fifth or sixth time they updated their own website all season. They report a base of 40-85" on the bunny hill and one other trail they have. Tubing is open as well. Sapphire has some fun planned and they posted, "Sapphire Valley Ski Area’s second annual Outhouse Race is on Saturday, February 28th, 2009. Proceeds from this event will provide ski program scholarships for the Tamassee DAR School Children. There is still time for individuals, businesses and companies that wish to support this project to build an outhouse (there are specifications for entries). The entry fee is $100.00 or you may sponsor an entry and have your name placed on one of the outhouses. An entry parade will begin at noon, followed by elimination races down Sapphire Valley’s Beginners Slope ski run. Prizes will be given out at an awards ceremony along with food, beverages, live music, even a “play by play” sports announcer and “lots of fun for all ages.” All are invited to join in the festivities, and enjoy an afternoon filled with excitement. Please come and join us and support these precious children, admission is free, and there is ample parking."

For entry forms, sponsorships or more information call Mary Beth Gillies, Event Chairperson at (828) 421 7448 or Steve Martell, Assistant Chairperson at (828) 507- 8455.

Just a thought here, but I think that a lot of fans of this little resort that happens to have a ski hill would appreciate it if they reported their conditions regularly. They’ve posted three sentences all season long about their conditions and now devote six paragraphs (we didn’t post it all) to some "outhouse races". Hmmmm. Oh well, it’s for a good cause so we’re down with it.

Yes…we’re raggin’ on them a little.

Lots more is happening around the region…Be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com  to see what’s happening into the Virginias, Tennessee, and Maryland ski resort areas.

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