Lots to Cover: Weather, Events, Fun Stuff and More!

We’re at about the halfway point in the 2010-2011 Season and nowhere NEAR the end…

This morning as I checked my skiMail INBOX I was met with emails from relative newbies to mountain living. The most asked questions of the day could be summed up with these two:

"Now that the season’s almost over, what will the temperatures be like the end of March. We have a trip planned and want to know if there will be snow."

and…

"We have a trip planned to the mountains next week. Since it’s gotten mild and rainy lately should we wait for a couple of weeks for better weather?"

I personally received nine emails asking questions relating to it being the end of the season. I saw five about how "mild" it is right now.

First my uninformed friends – NEITHER OF THESE QUESTIONS ARE VALID because it has not been mild and rainy to speak of AND it is not at the end of the season.

I wrote about this last week because these kinds of emails starting showing up in my INBOX. If you guys will visit this website more often you’d know that we’re barely past the halfway point in the season. The season gets going in earnest around December 1st every year. That was NINE weeks ago. Since many resorts operate through the end of March and some into April, my calendar shows me that there are EIGHT to NINE weeks left!

April 1st falls on a Friday this season, so I’d expect that (weather permitting) there will be a few ski resorts that will operate through April 3rd this season with an outside shot at April 10th. It’s much too early to get a firm grip on closing dates for the resorts that operate as long as they can for a couple of reasons. One – there’s so much base built up on the slopes that they could potentially have plenty of snow on the slopes into late April. Two – we don’t know what Ma Nature will throw at us between now and the end of March.

So for those attempting to plan ski and snowboarding getaways for the end of March, you’ll simply have to stayed tuned and let’s get much closer to that period and make that call then.

For those who are planning to head to the mountain this week or over the short term – it has not been all the rainy and it has not been mild. Add to that the forecast for next week is COLD AND SNOW…with highs in the TEENS on Thursday and 20s and 30s for much of the week. Lows will be in the teens and 20s to near 30° or so all next week with some snow in the forecast three of the next few days. We’re not looking at any significant snow in the forecast but some nice "ambience snow" will top things off nicely.

So conditions will be awesome no matter where you’re headed.

PERCEPTION…PERCEPTION…PERCEPTION

That’s my ongoing lesson that we constantly have to talk about on this website. When you’re sitting at home down in the flatlands and it’s raining, you just assume that’s happening up here. Yes, we saw a little precip on Friday and it began a little drizzly this morning. However as I sit here clicking at my keyboard at 9am it is dry with plenty of sun popping through the morning fog and clouds. It looks like we’re in store for a great Saturday and Sunday here in the High Country.

Additionally while the ski areas in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia saw a little "under-developed snow" (rain for those of you uninformed) the ski areas up in West Virginia have seen some light snow on two of the last three days. Add to THAT the fact that although it has been comparatively milder than the frigid temps of most of December and January – we STILL have quite a lot of snow all over the ground at most of the higher elevations of most of our ski resorts. Atop Beech, Sugar, Snowshoe, Canaan, Timberline and Wisp…you’ll find piles of snow all over the ground. I’m talking everywhere…not just on the slopes.

Case in point is Davis, West Virginia (home to Canaan and Timberline) that has an average of ONE FOOT of snow depth everywhere! Wisp Resort has 30 km of cross country ski terrain open with 8-13" of snow! I was in Boone yesterday and there’s pockets of snow around that are a good 5" deep. It may not be EVERYWHERE like it was for much of the last month, but if there’s THAT much natural snow still laying around IMAGINE how good the slopes still are!

Perception, people.

We saw some base depths drop in North Carolina over the past couple of days. None of the Virginia ski areas reported any drop – yeah right! Come on VA. My "home boys" (resorts in NC) accurately reported from 1-5" drops in base coverage. That means NOTHING when resorts have from 40-75" of snow as a MINIMUM base average.

The West Virginia and Maryland resorts reported no drop either, but since it was a little colder up that way AND they saw another 2" of snow in the last couple of days, it is understandable to have not seen a base drop.

Most resorts are reporting some nice grooming and with temps ranging mostly in the 30s this morning, the snow should setup quite nicely with what should be some perfectly carvable snow.

Appalachian Ski Mountain is putting on their Shred for the Cup terrain park event today. The first event in ATP’s Shred for the Cup series is coming up Saturday Night, February 5. Under the lights, ATP will host the inaugural Big Air event to kick off the series. With all the jumps they have been able to construct this season, the competitions should get heated.

As always, App Terrain Park will construct a variety of jumps / takeoffs for all ability levels to compete amongst one another. TONS of prizes will be up for grabs from all of their event sponsors! Spy Optics will be on-hand to support the event, and hook all competitors and spectators up with “Beanies & Weenies” – Some product giveaways, and some delicious hot dogs, straight off the grill.

All of the North Carolina ski areas are 100% open with all slopes and trails with the exception of Wolf Ridge which is riding on 18 of 23 today.

(I love The Wolf but I HAVE to share an email that came in on Friday about the snow totals being reported over there. Wolf has pretty much ignored our reporting of 18" less snow than they are reporting on the season. Another fan of Wolf who has a season pass, happens to be a meteorologist and who asked for anonymity because "I have many friends there and don’t want to catch any grief" wrote me, "Guys I have watched your reports all season long for all of the NC ski areas and have to commend you on staying on top of snow reporting. It is obvious that you’re connected with cocorahs and other services that are providing you with some good data. I happen to be one of those weather gurus that you talk about and I can confirm that Wolf Laurel has indeed seen right at the 90" that you are reporting and certainly nothing close to the 109" that they are reporting. We’ve had some great natural snow this season but I also have a friend who works from Maggie Valley and he and I share data that actually shows that Cataloochee’s number are very close to what Wolf Laurel / Mars Hill have seen this season. The patterns that have brought deep snows to Wolf Laurel are the same ones (moisture and temperatures) that have crossed Maggie Valley. So one would expect much in the same moisture-to-snow ratios. My data actually shows somewhat less than the 91" that you guys are crediting Wolf Laurel with, and somewhat more than the 64" you show Cataloochee with. However you’re in the +/- error ranges. My buddies at Wolf Laurel tend to get a little overly excited when reporting snow. We all do. Great job with your website.")

Moving on…

All of the Virginia and Tennessee resorts are 100% open with all slopes and trails with the lone exception of The Homestead which is operating with 9 of 10.

Winterfest is going on at Wintergreen Resort. They write, "Don’t let old man winter get you down! We have a fun weekend planned where you’ll find the exhilaration of winter sports and games! Dress in your finest at the Lost & Found Fashion Show, discover the Secret Skier and much more.

February 5-6, 2011
Subaru Master The Mountain Event
Join Subaru at Master the Mountain from February 5-6 from 9am – 2:30pm at Wintergreen! At Subaru Master the Mountain event you can demo the latest Nordica skis or just warm up with some complimentary hot beverages and enjoy music and giveaways from Subaru. Stop by the Subaru Tent and register for our beginner ski/snowboarding lessons.

February 5, 2011
Wintergreen Slopestyle
A ski and snowboard trick contest in the terrain park consisting of jumps, rails and boxes. Judging will be based on style, difficulty of trick, difficulty of feature, creativity and consistency. Prizes will be awarded for the top three skiers and snowboarders. Event start is 4 PM.

February 5-6, 2011
USSA/SARA Alpine Races
Join us for the Wintergreen Slalom (Feburary 5th) and Giant Slalom (February 6th) J1-J5 races hosted by Winter

All of the West Virginia and Maryland ski resorts are ONE SHORT of being fully open. Canaan has 38 of 39; Snowshoe has 59 of 60; Timberline has 38 of 39 and Wisp and Winterplace are 100% open.

Laura Parquette sets a record! She takes a page right out of our book where we believe "why talk about a subject with a few words when you can write a novel!"

Here’s Laura’s epistle for today from Snowshoe, "We have lots to talk about this morning, so let’s go topic by topic; Weather: We’ll start the morning off with some drizzle and pockets of fog on the mountaintop. If you’re driving to/from or around the mountaintop this morning use caution as visibility is limited in some areas. However, fog is something we regularly deal with at 4848′; we’re so high, we’re actually IN the low cloud cover! The good news is that once you take a turn or two off the top of the mountain, you’re usually below that cloud line and visibility improves dramatically. So just because your mountaintop view is a little less desirable this morning, don’t miss out on the great on-snow conditions we’re offering. We’ll get through the morning with some continued light drizzle; the weather report says rain, but we’re really talking light misting more than anything. Again, nothing that should keep you from enjoying the slopes today! Today is definitely going to be a day for goggles though, so if you don’t have some good eyewear be sure to stop by one of our great retail outlets and pick some up. Its little details like that that will make the difference in your day on snow! We’ll also start of the morning with fairly mild temperatures. Those temps will actually drop for the most of the day, and as we get into the afternoon hours that misting rain will turn into a few snowflakes. We don’t anticipate any measurable accumulation, but there will be some white stuff falling! Tomorrow it looks like we’ll start the day with some more snow falling, but the clouds will gradually move out and we should have a sunny afternoon to enjoy before the football festivities begin. As we look into mid-week there a possibility for some light snow on Monday, but mid-week could bring a pretty substantial winter weather event, meaning POWDER DAYS!! So stay tuned, but if you’re not already planning on it, it may be time to mark the calendar to head to Snowshoe! On Snow Conditions: Our grooming team was able to get out last night and groom everything except for Sawmill Glades. That means we’ll have a great corduroy surface to start off the morning across the mountain. The drizzle didn’t start until the early morning hours, so everything was groomed without adding water content to the snow. So we should start off with a nice hard carving surface this morning. As the day goes on, slightly milder than normal temperatures and skier traffic will soften that snow up. By mid-day we should see some nice, soft snow, similar to early spring conditions–definitely a lot of fun. Snowshoe has now seen 10 FEET of natural snow this season, and we’re in only our third or fourth thaw of the season. That means we have an incredible base across the mountain and GREAT on-snow conditions for your skiing and riding pleasure today. With cold temperatures returning overnight we may try to make some snow in certain areas and we’ll certainly be out grooming. Tomorrow’s colder temps should mean another day of fast snow and we’ll definitely look forward to the potential for some substantial new snow and possibly a powder day or two next week! Events: It’s hard to compete with our fantastic snow conditions, but if you can pull yourself away from the slopes for a moment or two there is a LOT going on on the mountain. Today is day two of our Homegrown Music Festival. Moonshine and The Connection were rocking last night and today will be no different. A complete schedule of performance times and locations is available at The Depot or any on mountain sales or front desk location. We have some great local and regional acts who definitely know how to get the party started and get people moving, so stop by and check ’em out! Today we also host our hilarious Homegrown Games. A little drizzle won’t stop us, so swing by the Shavers Center Plaza, just off Skidder slope this afternoon for funny competitions like a SPAM eating contest, bobbing for pigs feet and more. Registration for these events begins at 10am and the Games kick off at Noon with a corn hold tournament. In our large terrain park at the Snowshoe area today we’ll be throwing down the Red Bull Super Hit event. This freestyle competition will have the region’s best skiers competing for a spot in the Dumont Cup later this year. We have an incredible set up out there on Spruce Glades and it should be an awesome show today. Registration is from 9-11am in the Shavers Center, warm ups begin on slope at 11am and the comp goes down at Noon. Spectators are welcome and may access the slope at the top of Spruce Glades, staying to the FAR left of the slope, or at the Terrain Park Shack, located off of Gandy Dancer slope at about mid-mountain. The Red Bull DJ will be spinning some tunes and it’ll be a great time. After the on-snow portion of the event we’ll move into awards on the Village stage at about 5pm and then a viewing of the latest Matchstick ski movie inside the Connection at 6pm. After the Homegrown festivities tonight, DJ Zimmie will join DJ Judd in the Connection for a great dance party atmosphere! *Spruce Glades will be closed for the day for the competition. Our remaining 4 terrain parks will be open with a variety of features.* Also tonight, we’ll once again be offering our FREE snowmaking and grooming seminar. Join us in the Depot at 5pm for this informative session introducing you to two of the resort’s most critical operations. Our snowmaking and grooming managers will tell you about the art and science behind making all this snow and keep it looking so good! Swing by The Depot at 5pm for this FREE seminar. *Due to the Red Bull competition today, we will NOT be offering our Ride Thru with the Park Crew program. We apologize for any inconvenience. This introductory terrain park session will return next Friday!* Ok, enough reading, head for the snow and it enjoy your day!"

Way to go Laura!

Enjoy your weekend people! Email me your thoughts, questions, comments, gripes, photos, videos, etc. Just email me 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.