Snowshoe Mountain the Lone Ski Resort Open today as Cataloochee Temporarily Suspends Ops

9:30am and the bottom of Ballhooter is not busy

FIVE DAYS AND COUNTING UNTIL COLD AIR ARRIVES! The Countdown Continues as We HAVE to Look Forward to Something, Right?

I spent all day Saturday, outside working on finishing a new deck. It was part of my “Spring and Summer To Do list”. I just created that list a week ago when I caught a glimpse at the 7-10 day forecast.

Unfortunately, I’m not joking. It reached 68° on Saturday in Boone and I’m certain that it exceeded that in some mountain communities of the region.

2015-Dec-13-catCataloochee Ski Area is closed for Sunday sessions after deciding that it was best to suspend operations and await some colder air to make snow. They have posted December 17th as their hoped for date to begin making snow again.

That leaves Snowshoe Mountain as THE ONLY ski area in the region that is open today. They are reporting 52° at 8:35am Sunday morning and they are expected to reach 63° again today. They are reporting a base of 26″ of loose granular conditions on 7 slopes and trails for day sessions today.

It typically takes me about 30-40 minutes to run through all of the snow reports for each day and this morning it took all of about 45 seconds.

That’s not good.

DELIVERING THE MESSAGE…

On Saturday morning I shared the news that cold air and perhaps a bit of ambiance snow IS in the forecast as it looks like we’ll get four good days or nights in a row where the ski areas can make snow. In fact the latest forecast for Beech Mountain (just the one I looked at this morning) is showing HIGHS in the upper TEENS next Saturday with lows in the lower teens.

With THAT kind of cold temps, you won’t believe how quickly our snowmaking crews can blast the slopes and open terrain.

Right now we’re seeing some snow showers also in the forecast and cold temps should hang around at least through December 22nd.

Those 4-5 days of cold will set things up nicely for getting some slopes and trails open (and actually several more ski areas if not ALL of them).

The question that I was most asked about over the last 24 hours relates to, “With those 3-5 days of cold temperatures, how many slopes or trails do you think “XYZ Resort” will have open?”

You can replace “XYZ Resort” with your favorite ski area.

So I have two messages to deliver on behalf of all of our ski resort management crews.

First, in terms of how many slopes or trails might they open – it WILL be the core trails that the majority of visitors will hit. Earlier in the season you saw Cataloochee with 7 slopes open after just 36 hours of snowmaking. App opened 8 of their 12 with 30 hours of snowmaking. Sugar got 4 open and that’s what they’ve relied on every day that they’ve managed to stay open. Snowshoe is open with 7 slopes today.

We think that you’ll see every resort opting to open their CORE trails and we think that Sugar will opt to add Gunther’s Way to the open mix. They could try a couple more.  But it is important to note that even though they COULD try to spread their snowmaking efforts across more terrain – it would only make sense to do so IF they were insured that the cold, arctic air would stick around through the Holidays and into the first of the year.

The long range forecast IS for cold air to really kick in and start delivering snow as we get a week or so into January (as that is when experts are expecting more of a pattern change). However the “shorter” long-term forecast after December 22nd is for things to mild back up a bit and be unseasonably mild.

So it is this writer’s opinion, based solely on years of watching the trends that our resort ops work within, that ski resorts will focus ALL of their snowmaking efforts on putting down AS DEEP a base as possible on their core trails.

Snowshoe Mountain is nearly 100% booked for Christmas and even with 60 trails open that place gets crowded after about 10:30am. They won’t be able to get 100% open by Christmas, but we are thinking that they’ll do everything possible to open as many trails as possible on both the Snowshoe and Silvercreek sides to spread their traffic.

That sentiment will be duplicated at each ski area to open as much terrain as possible to insure a quality product AND the safety of their guests.

It is impossible for us to estimate HOW MANY slopes and trails that each resort will be able to open, but we DO think that they will focus on building as much base as possible on their main trails to insure be able to remain open through Christmas and New Years if at all possible.

The second message that we want to convey is the ski area’s ability to go from ZERO to OPEN in a day these days. The current forecast is for anywhere from 5-10 days of snowmaking temps beginning on the 17th for some ski areas and the 18th for everyone. With that kind of weather, the ski areas will be able to create a virtual winter-wonderland and some nice conditions for guests to play on.

If you’ve got travel plans that include skiing and snowboarding (or tubing) in the mountains of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic – things should be looking pretty good by then. Who knows…we could even see a freak blizzard by then!

Fingers crossed. Five more days of Spring left…so I’m off to finish that deck!

So keep THINKING COLD AND SNOW.

Keep the faith.

Until next time…

Enjoy your day and THINK SNOW! THINK COLD! …and Start a Prayer effort! Email me anytime and about anything 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.