Saturday Skiing Looking Like a Possibility…But…

Today’s story is basically an answer to over 1500 emails asking about the possibility of skiing this weekend in North Carolina. First, I have to address the REASON for the questions. Put aside that hundreds, if not thousands of people made early season reservations for this weekend and hoped to get in some extra runs by beating the Holiday crowds that are due to hit the next three weekends of December 17th and just after Christmas…and into New Years. Add in some unseasonably warm temps and drenching rains and you get the result of very little snow left on the slopes at Sugar and Appalachian…slightly less at Cataloochee (if there’s any left) and none whatsoever at Ski Beech, Hawksnest and Wolf Laurel. While Hawksnest DID fire their guns for a short time earlier in the week…Ski Beech and Wolf Laurel made what in hindsight looks like a wise decision in NOT making snow as yet this season.

So we get a gazillion inquiries – as to whether or not there will be any snow on the slopes for the coming weekend of December 10th, 11th, and 12th. The thing that has a lot of people puzzled is that Appalachian and Sugar have posted messages on their websites that they plan on being open. Appalachian stated that they "plan to be open Friday or Saturday" and Sugar’s site says that they "expect to be open Saturday." The rest are playing it understandably on the quiet side, opting to wait and see what the weather does. So people are torn and wondering who has it right. Will they or will they not be open.

Here’s our call – You guys have given us your trust and this is a difficult time for all parties concerned. The resorts want to get every possible skier on the slopes so they are naturally going to keep their options open and keep it a possibility that if they can turn a miracle and get some snow on the slopes…visitors will come. The accommodations interests are wanting you here for obvious reasons. They can’t make money on cancellations. …and then there’s the visitors. Many of you are stoked and ready to play on the snow. You WANT to be here, but you want it to be worth your investment of time and money. There is nothing more frustrating than plunking out hundreds or a couple of thousand dollars for a trip to the mountains…only for there to be no snow. So you watch the weather, keep an eye to the websites…and you look to us for direction. The last couple of years have been phenomenal and therefore our job has been easy.

This is going to be a GREAT season. All forecasters are staying with the prediction of more snow than normal and colder temps than normal. But then there is THIS WEEKEND. So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to spell it out for you and YOU make the call.

First, NO RESORT WILL BE OPEN IN NORTH CAROLINA ON FRIDAY…PERIOD. That you can count on. What you can also count on is that the weather will begin to turn COLD and somewhat snowy Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and the COLDEST air of the season will hit the area on Monday, December 12th. The temperatures Friday night will be "somewhat marginal" with lows expected to be around 31° overnight. Resorts WILL MAKE SNOW…but how much will be the question. Our guess? Sugar and Appalachian will pour it to the slopes and open on Saturday with one or two trails each. Snowmaking will continue ALL DAY Saturday with WINDY conditions. Sunday may see a brief stoppage in snowmaking…and then Sunday night the snowguns come back on for a couple of days straight. By Tuesday and Wednesday the conditions will be quite nice — still on limited terrain.

ALL of the resorts across the state will be able to open if they decide to…by Sunday or Monday…but some may still decide to concentrate on laying down tons of snow of the following weekend. Translation: The snowmaking crews at all of the resorts can perform miracles with the kind of temps we’ll have from Saturday on and with each passing day, the base depths will rise and the number of trails open will increase.

The Final Word – If you are looking for alot of trails, pristine beauty and plenty of base depths…we’d say hold off and come into next week or the following weekend. HOWEVER, if you’re like the majority of the people who have emailed us…and you JUST WANT TO SEE SOME SNOW and get a chance to get in some turns…then come on up, because we WILL see some snowfall over this weekend and we MAY see snow resorts open for skiing. Stay tuned as we will update you THE MOMENT that we can tell you something more definative.

One great thing that we can report is that FINALLY, beginning this weekend and into next week, we can start reporting on some great conditions and start showing you some snow covered hills on our photos of the day.

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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.