"Woopie Lookin’ Purty Bad", "Seattle Ain’t No Place for a Ski Resort", "When is the Rain Gonna Stop?"…
Those and several phrases that I can’t share with our audience were in my INBOX this morning. I’m pretty certain that "Woopie’s Lookin’ Purty Bad" is alluding to the shape that some of the ski areas are in right now. I was heading out of town to visit some family on Friday afternoon and Banner Elk was receiving some very hard, soaking rain – again. Sugar was already looking pretty bad earlier in the day and that kind of rain could not have been doing the maintenance crews in favors. Thankfully we are still expected to experience a really firgid burst of cold air that should hit tomorrow (Sunday). Winter officially begins at 7:04am on Sunday and that is about the same time that temperatures are expected to take a nosedive towards some of the coldest temperature readings of the season according to forecasters. Ray Russell of Ray’s Weather is still holding to his forecast of lows Sunday night in the single digits (7°) and highs Monday around 20° with lows Monday night around 12° for Banner Elk.
We’re going to give Ray a ton of credit because he was forecasting those kind of temps more than 4 days ago, when ALL of the other forecasters including the NWS, Weather.com and others were calling for temps 10-15° milder than that. Each of the last several days, the national services have inched down towards Ray’s number and this morning the NWS is now forecasting highs Monday of 23° and lows of 12° for Monday night. According to them Sunday night should be around 11°. We’ll see who’s got it right, but Ray was the first to forecast those kind of cold temps.
We should also see a little natural snow along with those awesome, around the clock, snowmaking temps and that will create an overnight transformation that will save the resorts that were looking about ready to close up.
In NOT SO GOOD NEWS, Ray is forcasting the cold to last only into Tuesday night and for a chance of showers Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then sunny skies for Friday with a high near 50°. The resorts can make a lot of snow in two days, and that will help them have a product that is pretty good for Christmas weekend, but that won’t allow enough time to open any other trails…and that isn’t the best news since Holiday crowds need more trails to disperse traffic. Of course if "Woopie is (still) Lookin’ Purty Bad"…
Let’s go see what’s happening today…
<App Gets The Nod as Having the Best Conditions today…
Appalachian Ski Mountain – These guys are THE BEST BET for the best conditions today in North Carolina. We were watching as App was grooming in the pitch, black dark of the early morning hours this morning. They have 8 of 10 trails open with only "Hard Core" and "Thin Slice" (two blacks diamonds) closed for now. App also has ice skating and both terrain parks open. NO BARE SPOTS or THIN COVERAGE and things look pretty good heading into the Christmas week. They are reporting a base of 25-48". They should be able to be fully open for the Christmas Holiday period.
Cataloochee Ski Area is at 46° this AM and they will offer 5 of 14 trails again today for day and night sessions. Cat looks purrrr-ty nice (get it). Anyway, they will have some thin areas here and there, but overall good skiable terrain for today and tonight…and as Tammy Brown reminds us, "With these upcoming cold temperatures we will begin making snow again as quickly as temperatures permit this weekend in order to improve conditions and add additional terrain for your holiday skiing and riding. Please remember with Cataloochee’s continued investment in the latest in snowmaking technology and capacity, our automatic system can literally allow us to open additional terrain and regain our base depth in one night."
Sapphire Valley Ski Area – After their shortest season on record (last season) they have yet had the weather to open for this season. They report, "The ski area will open as soon as weather allows. We have had unseaonably warm/wet weather, but forecast to change soon. Frozen Falls tube park is now open weekends for snow tubing fun!Again, as weather permits. Call ahead for hours and slope conditions."
It‘s looking rough at the midway areas at Ski Beech today…>
Ski Beech is reporting 39° this AM, and they are barely holding on with one thin strip connecting Lower Shawneehaw to the lower portions of the mountain which actually looks okay. These guys are doing the best that they can with what they’ve got. They have 4 trails open with bare spots and lots of thin coverage. They will be among the first to crank up the snowguns with their improved system and 5506′ elevations so things will vastly and quickly improve on Sunday afternoon, but it won’t be pretty today… The ice rink is open today as well.
<Sugar looks surprisingly pretty good today!
Sugar Mountain – 37° – From Highway 184 on Friday, these guys were looking rough. This morning we zoomed in from the Extreme Snowboard and Ski cam and it is amazing how much better they look. They have 11 of 20 trails open and although there will be some thin coverage areas and bare spots, there is plenty of decent terrain to ride. They have their huge ice rink open as well.
Wolf is looking pretty decent as well!>
Wolf Ridge Resort – We watched as some young skiers were "snow plowing" down at 8:20am this morning (a few early turns are always fun!) and they have 4 of 20 trails open for day and night sessions. Their tubing hill is open as well. Wolf’s snowcats were pushing snow around this morning and they look decent for today.
The top question of the day was unquestionably, "Where’s the best conditions for this weekend?" That is ALWAYS the hardest to answer and not because all of the resorts have equal conditions, because right now they don’t. The question is hard to answer because ALL of the resort staffers are working AS HARD AS THEY CAN with the resources that they have available to them. ONE of those resources is snow base. Other variables are the type of terrain they have, the alignment to the sun, etc.
You guys always expect us to answer the hard questions though, so we’ll say it this way:
If you haven’t decided where to go, then the best conditions right now in North Carolina are at Appalachian. Cataloochee and Wolf look pretty decent. Sugar Mountain has the most terrain and even with some thin coverage offers pretty good coverage for today. If you are ALREADY in your accommodations at one of the ski areas, then go out and enjoy what they have! You WILL have fun and you WILL enjoy your day!
As always, be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com for more news about ALL of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic including more photos of the day, more snow news, more videos…and just MORE!
Send your comments, photos, videos, and trip reports to: [email protected]
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