The Down Side of the Roller Coaster

We’ve been talking about the fact that this winter has resembled a roller coaster, with a lot of it staying on the down side. We have had a small swing to the upside with some snowmaking temps over the early part of this week. Now this morning we’re staring in the face of temps that did not allow widespread snowmaking and we even have some light rain and gusty winds in the forecast for Friday and again on Sunday. Saturday looks like the best day to ski and ride with sunny skies and highs in the 50s and lows around 38° in the High Country. Snowmaking temps are not expected again until Monday as the high should be in the 30s and lows Monday night should drop to the low to mid 20s.

Things ARE beginning to give the appearance that a weather pattern change may be on the horizon as Tuesday and Wednesday’s overnight lows should provide for more snowmaking. We’re STILL looking for a pattern change that will provide more prolonged and consistent cold around mid month. Keep your fingers crossed!

The Weather Has Taken a Toll on Resort Offerings. Here’s a summary. Be sure to check the slope conditions report page for details.

Cataloochee Ski Area has shut down their tubing operations. Tammy Brown says, “Due to warmer temperatures of this past week, Tube World located in Maggie Valley, across from Ghost Town, four miles from the ski area WILL NOT BE OPEN on Thursday and Friday as scheduled, and will make a decision as to reopening on Saturday, January 6 by Friday, January 5 at 7pm.”

Cat still has 6 slopes open for skiing and riding and they made snow in the last couple of days.

Sapphire Valley is not open despite their own ski report saying that they are. We contacted them and they are reporting that as of Wednesday afternoon that they have suspended skiing operations until some snowmaking weather returns. Their goal was to make more snow and try to open tomorrow (Friday) but we don’t see that happening with the rain coming in. They’ll have to look toward mid next week.

Ski Beech is hanging in there. They made some two nights ago, but the top of their main hill at the base (Powder Bowl) is already looking pretty worn and the hill just above that (into Lower Shawneehaw) looks terrible. Don’t be surprised if they don’t close up after the rain on Friday.

Sugar Mountain made snow well into the day on Tuesday and even some Wednesday morning, but things are looking pretty bad from top to bottom. They will suffer a bit more with Friday’s expected rain. They have six trails open – not seven that the SSAA is reporting. Additionally they are self reporting thin coverage and bare spots. One quick “sidebar”: In our opinion Sugar Mountain’s mountain ops have done the best job to date of updating their conditions and base depths of all the NC resorts thus far this season. Not a day goes by that they have not upped or dropped their base, and their reported surface conditions have been dead on all season. They do have some decent snow to ride, you’ll just have to dodge some bad areas.

We bragged about the top reporting thus far, so unfortunately we’ll point out the worst thus far. That distinction would have to go to Wolf Ridge. They rarely change anything in their report, often going several days without updating any reporting service. Their own website is still reporting the dusting of snow that took place Monday night. Their webcam is showing some rather good conditions this morning on the 3 trails that they have open, however we’d love to see daily updates.

That’s it for this early update. Be sure to check out for more details on all of the ski areas. Additionally, we’re working on a story about the Holiday skier visits, so check back later for more!

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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.