More Snow Falls; Great Conditions Everywhere! Go Ski and Ride!

I know that I will get a lot of agreement on this statement – I love vacationing! There’s nothing like lying in bed, listening to the consistent pulse of the ocean as wave after wave crashes into the shore. I was still asleep, in that place between a sound slumber and where you’re just beginning to wake up, when the rhythmic roar of the ocean began to get my attention. Then I woke up. That wasn’t the beach that I was hearing in my sleep (although it sounded indentical to it). It was the wind that was crashing over the top of Grandfather Mountain and funneling its way to the back of my home! We have had harder and more consistent winds here in the mountains during my 18 years of living here, but I am not certain that I’ve heard a more rhythmic pattern to the "ebb and flow" of those bursts that were building, hitting my home, and then dissipating.

Okay, I’m awake now. It was windy yesterday as well. It wasn’t one of those "blow you away days" but it was windy enough to push you around if you were on one of the ski resort slopes yesterday. The highest wind clocked at Banner Elk was 33mph, but it was consistently windy.

These winds that are dominating my thoughts this morning are quite high as well, although according to our weather station, the highest winds were at 34 mph near midnight.

FYI – as of 9am (as if on cue) the winds have died out. Just as quickly as they came – they are gone here in the mountains of North Carolina. Literally minutes ago they were blowing hard and now they are simply GONE.

Did I mention that it is COLD AS HECK AS WELL?

The last several days have been stormy and snowy, but I also couldn’t help but notice that this morning’s weather map is almost completely clear of any precip whatsoever. There is a small bit of precip down in southern Georgia and northern Florida. There’s also a slight bit of rain in Louisiana. If you look really hard you can see some light snow up in Montana. But that’s it. The rest of the United States is clear as a bell. Windy – but clear.

It’s kind of hard for a novice weather fan like me to dicern where all of the moisture is going to come from to bring about all of the snow that the real weather practitioners are still saying is heading our way. It is and we’ll talk more about that in a moment or two.

JANUARY WAS A GOOD SKIER’S MONTH…

January will go down as one of the snowier ones that we’ve had in a while and particularly further north into West Virginia and Maryland. However even here in the Western North Carolina Mountains we saw a lot of natural snow. It was also a cold month for the most part. The average temperature for most of the mountain region was around 29°. The highest temp was near 60° on January 4th. The lowest temp was minus 3° in Banner Elk, -5° at Ski Beech.

Beech Mountain’s Gil Adam recorded 17.8" of snow for the month and teamed up with a lot of good snowmaking temps that made for good ski conditions for all but a few days during the month.

THAT’S NOTHING COMPARED TO WV & MD!

Even the grumpiest of pessimists would have to be convinced that it was a BOMBER, EPIC, CRAZY month of snow and crazy storms in West Virginia and Maryland! These guys had a little freezing rain, rain, sleet and junk weather thrown in all month – BUT for the most part all it did during the month of January was SNOW, SNOW, SNOW and snow a little more!

Portions of West Virginia had measureable snow within 25 of the 31 days of January! Tucker County has a NWS Official Snow Reporting station there and they measured 64" of snow (officially) in January ALONE! That is more than some of the region’s ski areas AVERAGE for an entire season! Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County picked up a bit more than that although we don’t actually have an official tally on it. We can tell you that Snowshoe has now received more than a foot more snow than they did all of last season and we still have some nine weeks of ski season left!

NO BIG SNOW EVENT HEADED OUR WAY AFTER ALL??? WILL WEST VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND HOG ALL OF THIS SYSTEM TOO!?!?!

During the day Friday I received a few emails that alluded to the fact that the hoped for big snow that was heading our way was, in fact, is beginning to fizzle out into just a little snow here and there. So another good chance for the deep powder was gone.

Then around mid day I received an email from Charlotte’s NewsChannel 36 WCNC-TV, Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich who wrote, "Yeah I’ll have to do a storm update for Monday-Wednesday, looking more and more confident in a major storm now!"

I’m so confused! I don’t know what to believe! One meteorologist tells me that nothing special is coming our way and another says "look for a big storm".

Of course I guess a big storm IS coming this way, it just looks like it is going to be out over the Atlantic when it passes the North Carolina coast. However, one look at the NWS forecast shows that Snowshoe, Timberline, Canaan and Wisp are possibly in the path of more big snows! In fact, where much of North Carolina and Virginia are looking at a little light rain on Monday… the West Virginia mountains are – you guessed it – looking at snow beginning Sunday night and lasting through Wednesday night!

So….for now at least….I’m going to forget that anything MIGHT be edging our way and just be happy that it is cold as heck and that the talented snowmaking crews of our region are blasting away creating some manmade powder for us to play on! We’ll take a closer look on Sunday as to what to expect for Monday and beyond.

We’re certain that we’ll hear more from them pretty soon and we’ll update you ASAP.

Some of the biggest snow events ever have been those that only an inch or two were forecasted. THERE I GO AGAIN!

WAY TO GO GUNTHER!!!

I heard some nice things from several parents and kids from the first and second grade class at Valle Crucis Elementary School this week. Several parents were singing the praises of Gunther Jochl of Sugar Mountain. Gunther provided free ski passes for all of the first and second graders and their parents, teachers, etc. He also sprung for free snow tubing, ice skating AND on top of that he provided a free pizza party for the whole crew in attendance! Way to go Gunther!

I’ve rattled on too much this morning…so to save us both some time…just go check the SLOPE REPORT page for the details on slope openings and conditions! It will be a great weekend to ski and ride!

Here are a couple of notables:

CAN IT GET ANY BETTER THAN IT IS IN WEST VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND RIGHT NOW???

These guys keep getting the snow! Canaan reported 3" on Friday and Snowshoe gobbled up 7" of snow! As Laura Parquette wrote, "Conditions will be epic this morning!" They are 100% open with powder and groomed conditions! They are now nearly one foot over last season’s snowfall total and we have all of February, March and some of April to go!

Wisp Resort is 100% open today with all 32 trails and three of their four terrain parks operating and another one inch of snow.

Canaan Valley keeps on getting bombed with snow day after day after day! They reported another 3" of snow to take them to 64" of snow in January and 134" on the season. They have 38 trails open today and they are making snow on "Tube Park", "Meadows terrain park", "Bunny Buster", and "Valley Vista".

Winterplace Resort gets to the 50" mark of natural snow on the season after a reported 2" more snow fell on Friday! They move back to 100% open today with all 28 trails open with fabulous conditions.

Wintergreen Resort’s Anne Marie Jones shared, "We have an event packed weekend on the way with great weather forecasted and even better snow conditions! The Wintergreen Slope Style event on Sunday is definitely something to check out. Skiers and boarders from all over the region will compete for prizes and the honor of wowing the crowd with great tricks. Come participate or simply marvel at the talent. If you show up on Sunday wearing your favorite NFL team jersey, jacket or helmet you get a $5 discount on your lift ticket. And for all of you planning to watch the big game, don’t forget to stop by The Edge Restaurant for our Super Bowl Party and .25 cent wings or pizza by the slice at The Dome and the game on the really big screen. We have something for everyone this weekend, come up and have some fun!"

Ober Gatlinburg made snow and will turn the guns off during sessions today! They have great conditions on 6 trails.

Sugar Mountain reported an inch of new snow on Friday and they made snow overnight. Here’s the news: Conditions are SO GREAT that there will be no snowmaking today during sessions! They are 100% open!

Ski Beech reported 1" of new snow in the last 24 hours and they look AWESOME this morning after a pre-session grooming took place. They are making snow to open more terrain as soon as possible. We’ve haven’t heard whether they have been able to get that third pump installed yet.

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]