Sunny and Mild Today – Winter Returns Late Friday!

Even after yesterday’s lengthy update, wherein I attempted to dispel all anxieties over what the conditions were, I received a couple of emails – one mere MOMENTS after posting the morning report.  It read, “I know that you just reported about how the conditions were pretty good and that we shouldn’t be worried, but you don’t know.  We’re driving up five hours and I was thinking about canceling our plans for this weekend until we read your report.  However, if you could, please understand that we just don’t want to drive up and not see any snow. If we come all that way and can’t ski, what else is there to do?”

In the immortal words of Jonathan Higgins, the old guy on the Old Magnum PI show, “OH – MY – GOD!”

How can I get any clearer?  Oh I know.  How about you guys take a look at the WEBCAMS!!!

Since it’s the “eve” of MLK Weekend, I’m going to devote a little extra time to this morning’s update and try to assist the gazillion people planning to come up for this extended weekend.

First, let’s broach the subject of the AMOUNT of snow that all resorts have. They have PLENTY! ALL resorts have experienced timely cold snaps and enough snowmaking and even a little natural snows over the last couple of weeks…mixed within this thaw that we have had…to MAINTAIN quite a nice base of snow across most all of their trails.  RIGHT NOW, all resorts WILL have some thin coverage and bare spots. However, very few.  We watched the groomers running up Appalachian and Cataloochee this morning and we can tell you that the snow looks pretty sweet right now.  I wish I could hit it today.

I spoke with Cataloochee General Manager, Chris Bates this morning because there was some speculation that Cataloochee was going to make snow last night. It ALMOST got cold enough.  According to Chris, “Man we tried.  The temps just were all over the place last night from 32 °  to 36 °  and we just weren’t able to crank them up.”  He added, “We have good coverage right now.  The last few days hurt us a little, but the snow coverage is really good.”

We’d agree.  Just take a look at the front webcam shot!  The best snow in North Carolina might be a toss up right now between Appalachian Ski Mountain (our pick) and Cataloochee. The messageboard Cat Crew might switch that order around.  However they both look pretty good. One look bat the webcams for Hawksnest, Ski Beech and Sugar and we’d have to say that all look pretty inviting to us right now.

So if you’re planning your trip around whether or not there’s enough snow – get to packing because a lack of snow you will not have. No it will not be at peak conditions, but we’d put it at a strong 7 or 8 out of ten. Base snow is not an issue.  Clear!??

Next, let’s tackle the subject of the weather.  It will be mild today, cooler but not cold Friday for your trip up,  COLD AS HECK Saturday with SNOW much of the day (maybe 2-4” of snow at the preferred high elevations).  The thing that you guys should also know is that you’ll need to dress in layers and bring some tie-downs because it will be windy as Dorothy’s plot of land in Kansas was on Friday night and much of the day on Saturday.  Forecasters like Ray Russell, Brad Panovich and others are forecasting 25-35 mph winds Friday night with gusts to 55mph!  Saturday will also be windy 25-35mph and lessening late in the evening.  So it will be WINTER on Saturday.  A COLD, SNOWY, WINDY, RAW day.  It may be windy enough to close a lift or two.  That is the reality.  The GOOD news is that snowmaking crews from all of the resorts will be making snow to beat the band beginning sometime late Friday and then all day on Saturday.  Yes, bring your goggles.  Saturday will not be a pristine, Chamber of Commerce, Ski Resort Marketing Department kind of day…but it will be WINTRY, SNOWY and COLD. The snowguns will do wonders for the conditions and the overall “Winter Feel” that visitors are looking for.

Sunday and Monday will be nearly PERFECT ski days for our MLK crowds. After the skies clear and the winds die down Saturday night, Sunday should be one for the cameras! Beautiful Sunny Skies, backed by Blue like you haven’t seen unless you visited us many times after snowfalls.  The temps will be in the 30s and 40s on Sunday (perfect) and no winds to speak of.  The Snow will be firm, and the surface…just the way you want it. Saturday night snowmaking and grooming (along with the wind quieting down) we’ll allow snowmakers and groomers to setup what should be a perfect day on the slopes on Sunday.  Monday will be more of the same. That means that more than 60% of your stay will be near perfect, 25% will be cold, snowy and pretty windy…and the rest…well you HAVE to sleep sometime!

Here’s some notes from around the area today:

Appalachian is still looking at a base in excess of 18” to more than two feet.  Probably the best snow in the state on all nine trails.

Cataloochee actually opened another trail since yesterday.  You can’t do that without good base people!  Cat is 100% open with more than a two foot base on ten trails.  Cat’s snow is a very close second if not the best conditions in the state right now.

Hawksnest is still in good shape with more than 15” to 20” of base on 9 slopes.  They do show a few (literally a handful) of thin coverage or bare areas.  Check out the camera as it’s showing good snow. Looks like three feet around the bottom lift house.

Welcome back Sapphire Valley! After a week of non-reporting, Sapphire adjusted their base down by 3-14” which leaves them with an 8-22” base on two trails.  Reports tell us that Sapphire is looking decent on one trail and a little ragged on the other.  They expect to make snow Saturday along with everyone else.

Ski Beech hasn’t budged on their base in the last three to four days, which is unusual for them, but regardless, the conditions up there are VERY GOOD.  Check out the lower cam and the slopeside webcam and I’m stoked to go ski!  Groomers can do wonders!  The base area and a few high traffic areas were looking a little dingy first thing, but it looks darned nice right now!  Expect a few thin coverage areas, and maybe a bare area or two to show later in the day.  TODAY IS MEN’S DAY at Ski Beech.  Ski FREE today guys!

Sugar Mountain stayed on it’s same base as yesterday as well  (unusual for them of late as well)…but much like Beech…they are still in very good shape. Expect a thin area or two – or three – but conditions are sweet at Sugar right now as well. We’re looking at the live cam this morning and it looks quite nice. Sugar is reporting 14” to three or four feet of base on 16 trails.

Wolf Laurel has been stuck on it’s reported 18-42” base for a week now.  It has dropped from that.  Wolf is still reporting that they made snow the last three nights – they didn’t.  Looking at the live camera, conditions are holding up okay.  Reports say that there are some thin coverage areas and bare spots as well…but plenty good to ski side to side.

That does it for this morning.  Conditions are from good to very good at most all ski areas today.  Get out and enjoy!

Until Next Time!

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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.