Nice Today – Cold and Snowy Tonight at North Carolina Ski Areas

It’s chilly around the region and there are signs that a more normal Winter Weather Pattern on coming together. January is all but gone and it will most certainly go down as one of – if not THE warmest January’s on record.  I still stick by our assessment of this winter’s weather thus far though and the word is “timely”.  We have had timely cold and snows at just the right time to keep from good to great conditions on the slopes…with probably only a handful of days so far that could be classified as bad slope conditions.  We’ve only had a handful of days with rain in them.  So all in all…not too bad.

We have a little snow in the forecast tonight and Tuesday.  It’s another one of those 1-4” varieties. I know you guys would agree with me that we need to get some serious snowfall tallies going.  It would be nice to get a few one-footers!  We’ve been keeping tabs with the SkiNC / Utah Summit Crew and they have been getting dumped on the whole time they’ve been there. Some two feet of snow has been piling up the messageboard crew!  They’ve been excitedly (and understandably) boasting about the true powder conditions and we’d like to go on record saying that we don’t need to be so greedy as to wish for that here in the Southeast…but some nice fraction of it would be cool!

Forecasters have been touting the facts that cold air is in place and that the signs were coming together that would dictate a return to more normal winter weather patterns for this area.  All of them are still maintaining that fact and although we haven’t heard from Brad Panovich of late, Herb Steven and others are saying that we’ll have this bit of cold and snow tonight and tomorrow.  Then we’ll see another small mild couple of days towards this weekend and then winter makes its return.  That would put it back to around February 5th or 6th.  A few weeks ago these guys were saying the first of February.  Then it went to the 4th by some prognosticators and now they are pushing it back another day or so…but you get the feeling that they KNOW the conditions are there…it is just a matter of time before it kicks in.  We’ll keep the faith and go on record right now to say that the last three weeks of February and then March will be slightly colder than normal with about normal precip.  Okay, we’re not Nostradamus.  We’re getting that from the compilation of several top weather gurus.  That’s our call though.  So maybe we CAN get more substantial snowfalls and more sustained cold air.

February and March are always the time of the year that I can get to ski a bit more, so actually this is just perfect for me!

Here’s some notes from around the region:

Appalachian reported another slight drop in base depth.  However they will provide GREAT conditions for today.  My twelve year old spent the day on Saturday, ice skating with several friends and she gives the ice rink there two-thumbs up.  Also we have received a few emails from people talking about the new terrain features over on Thin Slice.  They’ve been met with somewhat mixed reviews, but the consensus seems to be that they are another great show of devotion to snow boarders.  It’s funny, Appalachian was the last ski resort in the Southeast to accept snowboarders…and now they are probably the best resort at embracing them.

Cataloochee is open for day skiing only today and tubing is closed until Thursday.  That is normal schedule stuff. Also offered today is their Guaranteed Learn to Ski or Ride Package where first time skiers or riders age 8 and above may purchase a beginner lesson, beginners area lift ticket and ski rental equipment for only $39 or a beginner snowboard lesson, beginner area lift ticket and snowboard rental for only $55. And with that guarantee, you may repeat the lesson as often as you like during the same day session. Package lessons begin at 10, 12 and 2pm and you must be here at least 30 minutes prior to the time the lesson begins to sign up.

Also, don’t forget that Thursday is the 3rd race of the Cataloochee Challenge Cup Race Series. Individuals race against the clock for the best of two runs. Top three challengers in both men’s and women’s age divisions win cool stuff. You must be 21 years of age or older to participate. Racing begins at 8pm with a post awards party at 10pm, so dust off those racing skills and test your luck. The Cat is where it’s at on Thursday night’s Challenge Cup Race Night. Call the ski area for more information.

Word is that Hawksnest Ski Resort had a successful first edition of The Nest Games. We will post some results and winners when we get that information.  It was pouring rain in the AM on Sunday so we headed off to accomplish some chores that needed to get done…so we didn’t make it out there.  The skies cleared around noon and conditions couldn’t have been much better as far as temps go.  Lorrie Tomlinson took a bunch of photos that we will share with you.  Hawksnest is skiing on eight trails today and a base of 14-34”.

Sapphire Valley has now closed temporarily due to the warm temps.  We knew that had to be coming.  Sapphire fought valiantly to stay open.  Here’s their statement, “The Resort is TEMPORARILY closed. We will reopen when temps allow for new snow making. Call 828-743-7663 for further details.”  They could make snow tonight and Tuesday night according to the forecast, but that may not get them back open and then mild air is coming back in for a couple of days, so it is a possibility that Sapphire Valley may not reopen until after February 5-6th or so.  Keep watching the slope conditions reports for updates.  Sapphire Valley becomes the first North Carolina ski area to close due to the weather this season.

Ski Beech is having some database issues and that is why their report has not been posted to their website over the weekend.  We have updated their report on SkiNC.  Today is LADIES DAY at Ski Beech.  Ladies ski FREE all day and night! Those looking for the elusive Ski Bunny might want to take their cameras!!!??

Sugar Mountain closed one slope for today and showed a slight drop in base, but ONE look at the webcam from across the street this morning will tell you that Sugar is looking mighty sweet this morning.  Sugar is sitting on GO, ready to crank the snowguns up as soon as the temps allow this evening.

We knew it was too much to hope for, but EVERY SINGLE resort in North Carolina except for Wolf Laurel showed a drop in base depth of from 3” to 6” over the last two days.  Wolf showed none.  One look at the webcam at the base will tell you that Wolf Laurel is looking quite fine today, and they made lots of snow the other day…and they are still showing quite a lot of snow on the roof of the lift house…but….

Conditions will be nice today, but expect a little light showers as the cold front makes its way into the state.  Those light showers should turn to snow late and then Tuesday through the rest of the week should be quite nice.

We’re planning on skiing at Hawksnest and Ski Beech this week, so look for the SkiNC shirts and come say “hi”.

Until Next Time!

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of, and 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.