Several Southeast Ski Areas Close for the Season; the Rest Push On!

For those who weren’t around or don’t remember TODAY is the day that thirteen years ago dumped a official record of 22” of snow on the mountains of the Southeast. However, storm totals across many areas saw much more than that.  I was living up on Seven Devils that winter and we had one of those decorative wooden snowmen measurement thingies (that’s the official terminology) and it only measured up to 36” and the snow was some 8” above it. Several reports told of 42”-44” of snow around the High Country and drifts well over 8 feet.  Now THAT was some snow.  They still call it “The Blizzard of ‘93”.  About A WEEK after the storm I took a picture of my wife standing on the side of the road with her hands over her head and the snowbank was above her.  I have stories about that storm that will last a lifetime.

This time last year we were in the midst of a snowy pattern that had just dumped more than a foot of snow across most of the region.  Some locations received much more.  Even so, we were to get another 3-5” during the week ahead and things were about as good as it gets at the resorts.  Of course by this time LAST season the resorts had fought through a mild stretch of weather that had robbed them of good traffic during the Christmas Holiday period; knocked more than 70% off of their normal MLK Weekend crowds and held down the President’s Day Weekend traffic.  That snowy ending seemed to at least put a good “feel” on the season.

THIS season has been a great one in terms of traffic.  I still maintain that several if not all of the Southeast’s ski areas will break single season attendance records.  As we have written numerous times this season…it has been one of perfect timing.  We got a perfectly timed GREAT start; we got cold and snow just in time for a great Christmas / New Year break; we saw a HUGE MLK weekend and President’s Day weekend brought huge crowds as well.  Each time that conditions would look borderline across much of the Southeast…Old Man Winter would deliver a well-timed home run and either the snowmaking crews would crank out another blanket of snow…or God would send a well timed burst of cold and snow – or both!

Every person that I’ve told of how great this season has been (traffic-wise) responds with disbelief…but it’s a fact and we’ll try to get you some official word from some of the resorts when we wrap up the season. So while its been slightly sub-par in terms of cold and snow…it has been a great one overall.

…and it’s over for some –

TIMING was the key in forcing some resorts to pull the plug on this season.  Ski Beech had begun to look pretty worn and with temperatures hitting near 70° today and with only two nights of snowmaking in the forecast…they decided not to dump a bunch of money into snowmaking that would probably not be recouped.  That’s a decision that we can all understand.  Highs are forecasted to be near 50° for the next week in the North Carolina Mountains and the low temps are only expected to get to prime snowmaking on Tuesday and Friday nights.  Wednesday and Thursday appear to be borderline at 32-33°.  So Ski Beech called it quits.

After 94 straight days of skiing this winter, Ober Gatlinburg also called it quits on the season.

In Virginia , Bryce Resort had PLANNED to go until March 19th, but they too decided not to fight Mother Nature.  They closed at the end of the day yesterday.  The Homestead also closed ski operations for the 2005-2006 season.  They had failed to report for several days and we speculated their closure and that is the case.

We had also speculated that Hawksnest might decide to call it quits for the season but they have not thrown in the towel just yet.  They ARE closed at least until Friday but they are at the very least PLANNING / HOPING to open Friday at 12:30pm til midnight.  The slopes actually look pretty decent this morning on the live camera but it’s a toss up as to whether they will be reopening on Friday.  If the snowguns crank up on Tuesday night that will be a good sign.  We’ll keep you posted (and our fingers crossed!)

Cataloochee is closed today but will reopen Tuesday.

Appalachian is OPEN in North Carolina .  They have reported more than a FOOT drop in base depth in the last four days but they still are looking pretty good this morning.  However even App is now showing some discoloration in the snow…even with an 18-58” base on 9 trails.  They DO have the best snow in the state though – and among the best in the Southeast right now.  No bare spots.

Sugar Mountain was looking pretty worn when I drove past the entrance yesterday afternoon. It’s good to see them self reporting “some thin coverage” this morning.  They do have a pretty good bit of thin coverage and quite a few bare areas as well.  They STILL have good snow though and very good skiable terrain. We’re guessing they will crank up the snowguns Tuesday night. They are showing 19 trails open today.

In Virginia – Massanutten Resort is reporting Spring Conditions and they’ve had to close two trails but they plan on making it to Sunday, March 19th.  They too have some thin coverage and bare spots.

Wintergreen Resort is reporting Loose Granular conditions on 15 groomed trails this morning. Some services are reporting 19 trails open and that is incorrect.  The snowtubing hill – The Plunge is open today for the 2:00pm-4:00pm session only.  NO NIGHT SKIING THIS WEEK. Wintergreen plans on remaining open through March and celebrating their 2005-2006 Season on April 1st-2nd with our Annual Wicked Huge Park Party ! ! Mark your calendars now for this spectacular event.

Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is reporting Loose Granular and Spring Conditions on 100% of their 57 trails open.  They have plenty of good snow and skiable terrain despite some thin coverage and bare spots.  We love their attitude though as Communications Director, Andrea Smith reports, “This afternoon’s rain showers will mark the return of colder temperatures to the mountain. Look for the temperature to start dropping later in the day. Any of the rain showers will turn over to snow showers late tonight. In the meantime, limited grooming has taken place over the past few days so be aware of changing conditions and thin areas. Also, be advised, the Widowmaker Lift will be opening at 10am this morning. It’s Almost Heaven Value Season at Snowshoe. Now through the end of the season, you can save up to 50% on your lift tickets and your lodging. Call 877-441-4FUN for reservations and more information.”

Wisp Resort in Maryland isn’t showing any drop in their base depths despite the fact that they closed ten trails and 4 lifts.  Come on guys!  Lori give those mountain ops guys some heck!  We are receiving some emailed reports that like all of the ski areas of the Southeast – they too are showing thin coverage and bare spots.  Like Snowshoe, they do have plenty of good skiable terrain.

There’s still a lot of slopes and trails open and a fair bit of COOL events and probably some good snow left to fall from the skies…so don’t give up on winter just yet!  Snowshoe and Wintergreen have some great fun planned (as do others) and we’ll be sharing those plans with you on Tuesday so check back and GET OUT AND SKI!!!

Until Next Time!

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