T-Minus TWO DAYS and Counting –

We had a few people email asking where yesterday’s Photo of the Day on SkiNC was taken and obviously we failed to mention that it was at Appalachian Ski Mountain.

All of the ski area operators are watching the approaching cold as if this season’s success depends on it — as well it might. The Martin Luther King weekend is traditionally one of the top three periods that can make or break a season. Yesterday, all forecasters were saying that the arctic blast would put temps in the North Carolina mountains into the teens for lows and 20s for highs and NOW they are saying that the BITTER cold will stay north and that our temperatures will be more like highs in the upper 30s and lows in the low 20s. Trust me, we’ll take it! However, shooting straight from the hip here, if the resorts are not going to be able to crank up the guns until later in the day Friday afternoon or so that WILL affect how quickly they will be able to rebound the slopes and conditions.

Here’s what Sugar is saying about snowmaking, "We are making plans for the upcoming cold temperatures. Snowmaking will resume in full force just as soon as temperatures allow. We will be aggressively be making snow so we can open as many slopes as possible for the upcoming weekend."

The same can obviously be said about all resorts, but for those that have almost no snow on them, like Beech, the slower arriving temps will mean somewhat slower rebounding conditions. Also, looking at the forecast, what looked like around-the-clock snowmaking temps yesterday – MIGHT not be. The highs for Beech and Sugar are forecasted to be 37° on Saturday, 39° on Sunday and 38° on Monday.

That brings us to the QUESTION OF THE DAY – …and it comes from Tom Furr of Cantonment, Florida. He asked, "We are coming for the MLK weekend to Cataloochee. I am concerned with the warm weather up there the past several weeks. It looks good for the weekend but my question is how much snow can they make on Friday and how many runs are anticipated and will they limit the number of skiers if there are only a few runs open."

That is a good question. We can’t speculate on each resort individually for several reasons. However, suffice to say that Cataloochee and all of the resorts will have every gun on their mountains running THE MOMENT that the temps allow and for AS LONG AS TEMPERATURE ALLOW. That might be 24/7 and even if not the snowguns WILL be firing most of the time beginning Friday afternoon sometime and through the next 7 days or so (as far out as the long range forecast displays.) As to how much snow can they make…the answer is A LOT. If the resorts were to focus on ONE or TWO trails at full force, they could lay down a 1-to-2-foot base! Since it’s the MLK Holiday weekend looking ahead, they will all more than likely choose a few core trails and shower those with snow. As to how many trails will be open at Cataloochee and others. It is likely that the resorts which are NOT open right now, will be looking to open on Saturday with a few main trails each. As to limiting the number of skiers…no they won’t.

Most Questions Are About Ski Beech – The holiday crowds are emailing us like crazy about all of the resorts. However the most questions are about Ski Beech, so we spoke with Gil Adams of Ski Beech this morning and what he said should rest some concerns for those of you headed up to Beech Mountain for this weekend.

"We will be be making snow the moment it is possible and with about 12 hours of snowmaking we will be able to be open with as many as five or six slopes on Saturday," says Adams.

With snowmaking efforts focused on Powder Bowl, Freestyle, Play Yard (the middle core) one would think that Beech might not have any of the more difficult trails going. Not so says Adams, "Actually White Lightning and Robbins Run have a lot of snow on them up top and with about 12 hours of snowmaking we will have those slopes open. Sunday we should have about the same 5 to 6 trails going with even better conditions."

That reflects how all of the resorts will be moving forward. Expect snowguns running every moment possible and a few slopes opening with each passing day. WINTER IS BACK…and this weekend will be a success afterall!

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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.