First some important updates that we just became aware of:
Appalachian Ski Mountain has already announced that they are SUSPENDING THEIR NIGHT SESSION FOR TONIGHT due to the eminent forecast for thunderstorms for this evening. That is only for tonight. They are open today and will be open for this weekend for all sessions.
Wolf Ridge – This just in… They will be open FOR NIGHT SESSIONS ONLY FRIDAY. No day sessions. They will then be open for all sessions on the entire mountain for Saturday. This weekend Wolf is offering their year end special of "1/2 price lift tickets" for everyone.
…and now back to our regularly scheduled programming…um, writing.
THERE REALLY IS a "New Day at Beech"!
Hats off to Beech Mountain Resort for providing fans with an announced closing date in advance. In years past closing dates have often been decided on and shared with little or no advanced warning to at least the outside world. They have announced today that they will operate with a full session schedule today and this weekend. Beginning on Sunday, March 14th they will be open for DAY SESSIONS ONLY through Saturday, March 20th – which will be their last day of skiing and snowboarding for the 2009-2010 season. Remember that Beech is offering a VERY AFFORDABLE $20 lift ticket for day or twilight sessions today and Saturday and then $20 ticket prices for a full day of skiing for the remainder of the season. You can purchase a half day ticket for $10.
People, people – there’s some GREAT SNOW to be played on at Beech…and for $10-$20!?!?!?! Get out of here! Better yet – get up there! Beech plans on doing some pond skimming fun on the slopes on their closing day. Very cool guys!
Bryce Resort’s website is down this morning and they’re evidently having connectivity issues as no reporting service has any kind of update for them. That is no OTHER reporting service. I called and spoke with Brandy up there and Bryce IS OPEN for day sessions only on Friday from 9am until 3pm today. All 8 trails are open. No tubing today.
Snowshoe Mountain hosts the West Virginia Open on Saturday. Also Snowshoe fans should note that Saturday night will mark the end of Snowshoe’s NIGHT SKIING and TUBING SEASONS. The Silvercreek trails will close after night sessions Saturday…as will tubing.
Timberline Resort has not updated any reporting service since March 7th and their own website has not been updated since Wednesday. By now you guys know the drill…we called up there and they are open with all 37 trails and night sessions tonight.
As I went resort by resort to update the report this morning I came to Sapphire which has not reported anything to any reporting service but perhaps three times all season. I knew they were planning to reopen today and close for the season on Sunday so I figured I’d call and get an update for those thinking of heading in that direction. I called two different phone numbers that are on our contact list. The first rang and never got an answer. The second answered, "Thanks for calling Sapphire Valley. We plan on being open from noon until 9pm MARCH 5th…"
Oh well. I called three numbers before catching someone who responded, "We’re hoping to get open."
Call ahead. Again…oh well. Not a lot of marketing going on there…regarding snow ops anyway.
All of the ski areas are reflecting a steady 2-3" drop in base depths daily. That means that the snow will be soft…but plentiful. There’s perfect side-to-side coverage with tons of snow. My guess is that some ski areas will now begin to show a VERY LITTLE wear on some trails, but there’s so much snow that those areas will be easily "repaired" by pushing around mountains of snow between and prior to sessions.
SOME CLOSING NOTES…
After a bout of Spring Fever over the last couple of days, I threw on a short sleeved shirt this morning and walked out to temps that were in the mid to upper 40s. Sugar is reporting 44.9° at their base station, Beech is showing 42.9°, and a quick glance up at Snowshoe shows that they too are displaying 44° at the top of their 4848′ elevations. Highs are forecasted to rise to around 56° in the Western North Carolina mountains and near 51° into the West Virginia higher elevations.
So today is another Spring day in a string of mild days that is now seven days long. I glanced at the long range forecast and it appears that there’s no COLD air on the horizon and there’s some light rainfall potential as we get into the middle of next week with highs in the 40s and lows in the low 30s. There’s even a FLOOD WATCH in effect for some mountain communities with the combination of 1" of rain expected tonight and again on Saturday – and the fact that we still have quite a lot of natural snow on the ground in many locations. Add the fact that all of the rivers and streams are already pretty full…and you get some flooding potential.
My buddy Joe Stevens works with the West Virginia Whitewater rafting peeps and he’s already mentioned a number of times that all of this snow and moisture is going to make for a great whitewater season. My friends at High Mountain Expeditions are excited about what should be an AWESOME whitewater season in North Carolina and Tennessee as well. Visit http://www.highmountainexpeditions.com and make plans to ride the rivers this season.
NOT SO FAST THOUGH…Ski and Snowboarding Season Isn’t Over…
It’s all about perspective. We’ve said that all season long and it bears repeating again. So we’re in the midst of a WEEK of milder temps that feel so mild compared to the bitter cold temps and heavy snows that we’ve experienced this season – that we ASSUME that Spring and even Summer is a blink away.
A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y it isn’t as mild as you guys might think. The AVERAGE high for this date in Banner Elk is actually 54°! The average ten year low is 32°. The forecast for today is a high of 54° in Banner Elk. We’re a bit warmer on the low side than normal, but with an average high and low of 54° and 32° we’ll actually see highs and lows for the NEXT SIX DAYS that are forecasted to be in the 30s and 40s – with lows in the normal range.
With some sunny days forecasted for the coming days, we should see some awesome ski conditions pretty much everywhere.
…and that brings me to my last comments for today.
Cary from Florida emailed via his BlackBerry®, "Where is a good place to ski at the end of March or first of April. I know warm weather is coming. We are coming from Florida. Thanks Cary Sent on the Sprint® Now Network."
Does anyone r-e-a-l-l-y read this column? However, one more time (yea right). There’s GREAT snow everywhere. Find a resort that is open (see links below) and head in that direction.
We’re on day 106 and there are 31 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!