Oh well, some snow was made last night across the state. At 5pm yesterday we got all excited as the mercury dropped in the old thermometer outside. Come to think of it, I haven’t used an old-style, mercury-filled thermometer in a while. Okay, the digital readings from our computer assisted weather station displayed 32° across several portions of our area and we witnessed snowmaking at Ski Beech and Sugar Mountain. I jumped to my keyboard and began an elated bit of typing to announce that to all of those who might be heading up to the mountain for the weekend.
Of course I assumed that the temps were going to continue going on down into the 20s such that snowmaking would presume at several additional ski areas. I did have a fleeting moment of horrific thought that they MIGHT not drop any further and I DID mention with a word or two that we might get one of those all-to-often-occurring temperature inversions. For those unaware, that’s when the temps at the top of a mountain are warmer than those at the bottom. Typically elevation makes for colder temps. In fact, the normal is about 5.5° for every 1000′. So if it’s 35° at 3000′, you could normally expect it to be about 30° five minutes up the road at 4000′ elevation.
At 5pm Friday afternoon I was glancing at a dozen or so of the area’s weather station that many novices and people like Ray Russell of Boone have arranged around the area. Temperatures were "doing what they are supposed to do" as the temperature in Boone was 41° and at the higher elevations of Sugar and Beech Mountain (over 5000′) were right at 31°.
B-U-T N-O they couldn’t stay that way!
As I sat down to do my morning report, I was semi-excited and hopeful of being able to see that numerous, if not all of the resorts saw favorable temps and cranked up their snowmaking equipment. But that didn’t happen for all of the resorts. This morning we’ll update you a bit differently than we usually do; we’re going to share those that were favored with some snowmaking first and go from there.
Ski Beech may have been the first ski area in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic region to pull the trigger on the snowmaking system yesterday evening as temps nosed down to 33° or so. They saw a low last night of 25° and as of 6:30am it was 28° so snowmaking occurred all night. The transformation from where they were just 24 hours ago is nothing short of amazing. If you guys check out Friday morning’s story to see an image from Beech Mountain and look at the one accompanying this update…it is truly remarkable what 12 hours of optimal snowmaking weather can do.
Ski Beech is still making snow, but with temperatures already moving up to 35° or so up there, the snowguns will shut off pretty soon. They are open today and tonight with 5 slopes again (up from the 3 open on Friday). The bottom line is Upper Shawneehaw is open again. Beech is reporting a 0-12" base with bare spots and thin coverage. I’d like to correct them on that and share something my old buddy, Joe Stevens says. You can’t ski or ride on ZERO inches of base, so the more accurate statement would probably be that they have a 3-12" base with bare spots and thin coverage. Beech will be vastly improving again tonight and throughout the upcoming week for what should be a great week ahead of skiing and riding right through the MLK weekend.
Sugar Mountain was a quick second to crank up the snowmaking equipment yesterday afternoon (or as one interested reporter wrote me last night, "Mike I was watching both of your cameras split-screen last night and I’d almost swear that Sugar and Beech’s snowguns started at the same time! I was watching and died laughing when both screens updated at the same time and showed snow coming from the guns where none had been just once screen before."
NOW THAT is dedicated camera watching! Ummmm, Bart, you MIGHT want to step a-w-a-y from the computer every once in a while, dude.
Anyway, like Beech – Sugar is still making snow and they should be in nice shape for today with little in the way of bare spots although there ARE some, and they have 9 slopes open for today, ice skating and tubing as well. Snowmaking will stop momentarily as they are showing 27° at the bottom of their mountain and 38° at the summit. Inversions! Inversions!
Hey, Bart, will you peel your red eyes away from the monitor and let us know when the guns turn off? J-u-s-t k-i-d-d-i-n-g people! Bart is a friend and knows that I’m jerking his chain. You people are sooooo sensitive.
Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley was able to steer clear of the inversion syndrome and they are seeing 24° this morning and making snow! Expect them to make snow as long as temps allow. The forecasted high in Maggie is 54° so the guns will turn off soon. They may get additional snowmaking in tonight and then all this coming week looks perfect for making snow and opening additional terrain. The Cat will ride on 5 slopes and trails today and tonight and they have their popular Tube World operating as well.
Wolf Ridge is showing 31° as of this post and they reported that they made snow overnight. Things look pretty good on the webcam this AM. Also under the "tell ME we don’t make a difference" header… Wolf is reporting the following slopes open on their website ski conditions page, "6 —- 3 accessible on each side".
See! You conspiracy-minded people always think that ski resort operators are so nefarious and that they are out to hide and mislead you guys into spending money with them. I can’t tell you how many people wrote about how BAD the big bad wolf was because they didn’t want people to know that you could only access 3 slopes from 2 different locations. Another guy wrote that Wolf was ruining the mountain by building houses ON the ski slopes. You see…NEVER MIND. I could go on all day, but to summarize, Wolf isn’t exactly building houses ON the slopes, but besides the slopes. They HAVE rearranged the mountain a bit and m-a-y-b-e there is some construction going on where a slope used to run through, but that is CHANGE, and change is sometimes good too. Wolf has expanded their ski terrain in the last couple of seasons and if they can ever get some cooperation from the weather will offer 20 slopes and 82 acres of snow to play on.
You guys brought it to our attention (and subsequently theirs) that the report wasn’t detailed enough to explain that 3 trails were open for 2 separate entry points and like a good neighbor, they have tweaked their own slope conditions page to reflect that.
So can you guys just chill, just a little?
So that I can close out the "Wolf Ridge Conspiracy Chronicles" for good, a couple of our readers wrote that the two access points at Wolf are a 20 minute drive apart and one reader wrote that the drive was actually only 5 minutes. We reported that and then received numerous emails to clarify THAT. You guys ARE good!
Sheila (and others) wrote, "Mike, actually I’d like to know what kind of jet your reader is taking up the winding road to the top at Wolf, but I think the drive is probably closer to 10-12 minutes but it should be important to note for your readers that once you click off your skis and boots, walk to your car, pack them up, drive to the second access, unpack your gear, put it on and get to the other slopes…it probably takes 20-30 minutes IF you hurry. Just my nickels worth."
When she’s right, she’s right.
Our weather station up on Seven Devils, home to Hawksnest Resort showed that they only got down to 34° but evidently they WERE able to make a little snow last night at the top of the mountain. It’s already 36° so they are off now. We watched as they were grooming this morning. Justin Grimes from up their wrote this morning, "The skies are clearing this morning atop Hawksnest Mountain. Although, we have a narrow strip at the base, there is plenty of snow up the hill to enjoy today. Snowtubing is open too with three lanes. Remember, tonight is Nighthawk and you can ski and board until midnight."
He adds what all of the ski areas are looking at, "Snowmaking weather is in the forecast for this weekend as well as natural snow. Stay tuned to our website to watch snowmaking in progress. The forecast should make for rapidly improving conditions and more slope opening soon and the MLK weekend looks like a great time to hit the slopes here in the High Country…"
Ditto for all of the ski areas…
Appalachian’s low hung around 34° all night and they were not able to make snow. App was out grooming early and conditions should be very nice on the 8 slopes and trails, and terrain parks that they have for your pleasure.
Sapphire Valley is closed until MLK weekend, January 18th and plan to make snow at every opportunity. We have no word as to whether they made snow last night.
Enjoy your day…
Until Next time…
Be sure to visit www.SkiSoutheast.com for more news from the rest of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas!
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