Spring officially hit last night at 8:07pm EST, and from what we’re seeing there’s little or no chance of a late season burst of cold air that will produce any kind of late March snowstorms. Several mid-March snowstorms have hit in the past such as the Blizzard of ’93, the huge snowstorm of March ’96 and others…but from all of the forecasters that we’ve spoken with, there’s nothing but normal Spring weather ahead for those of us who call the Southeast and Mid Atlantic home.
One of our favorite forecasters is Ray Russell of Boone and I couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of his forecast today. He wrote, “A "White Leg Watch" is in effect Thursday into early next week; this will be upgraded to a warning if needed this weekend.” Cute. He was alluding to the sunny skies and near 70° temperatures that are forecasted for the High Country area of Western North Carolina.
We received several emails about this weekend’s forecast for areas further north into West Virginia and Maryland and “yes” it appears that areas around Snowshoe, Timberline and Canaan Valley are looking at a very spring-like weather forecast that includes 50% of rain and even some thunderstorms on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s still a bit early and things could change weather-wise, so we’ll keep you posted.
All in all it’s been a decent winter for our ski areas of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. We’ve had great snow on the slopes for all but a short couple of days back in mid January and even then it wasn’t that bad except at a couple of ski areas. Ski areas such as Appalachian, Cataloochee in North Carolina and those into West Virginia have not really seen much in the way of thin coverage or bare spots. One reader wrote that she had the feeling that it has been a “winter of two halves”. She made note of our archives that show that areas into West Virginia and Maryland have simply had it easier this winter and that has certainly been the case. In fact, we could literally draw a line just above Winterplace Resort in West Virginia and say that those resorts above that line have had it easier to maintain good quality snow almost all winter. Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, Timberline and Wisp have all had things much better, particularly since February 1st. Resorts south of that imaginary line have had less in the way of natural snow and even less in the way of cold temps.
One astute observer emailed us after pouring through our daily article updates to inform us that most of the Virginia and North Carolina resorts really only had what he termed “seven weeks of very cold and snowy weather”. Some would argue that even that period wasn’t that snowy. That is what is so amazingly impressive about how nice the conditions are RIGHT NOW at Appalachian Ski Mountain, Cataloochee, and to an only slightly lesser degree at Sugar Mountain. They are not in pristine shape today with the light rain, fog and cloudy skies, but there is good, side-to-side coverage and plenty of skiable terrain on March 21st – even though there has not been consistently cold temps or snowy conditions like most winters.
It should be stated that if we’d have had this kind of winter even 5-7 years ago, there would have been MANY missed days of skiing. Snowmaking technology and those that know how to implement it to its fullest have made even winters like the one we’ve just experienced successful. Hopefully enough of you have kept reading our daily stories wherein we keep telling you that all of the ski areas have snow and all are offering pretty darn good Spring Skiing. This weekend is looking sunny and mild across North Carolina and there’s no question that the three NC resorts will do some cosmetics and things will be VERY nice for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you make the trip, you WILL not believe how good the skiing will be.
The weather further north may dampen the fun that’s planned but we say go anyway! Some of the festivities include pond jumping and heck you’re going to get wet anyway!
For those that think that only the Northeast and South have had it tough…know this. Wisp at Deep Creek Resort actually surpassed their normal annual snowfall and is not that far off the snowfall seen this season across much of the United States’ resorts.
Mammoth Resort which normally gets 500 inches per season has only seen 179” thus far. Wisp Resort in Maryland has seen 124”. Timberline in West Virginia has seen 137” or so. Snowbird Resort also averages nearly 500” of snow per season and promotes their resort as providing the “greatest snow on earth” and yet this season they have seen just 292” of snow or 58% of normal for a season.
Stowe in Vermont averages 260” of annual snowfall and THEY have seen 284” this season which not only SURPASSED their normal, but also beats on Mammoth and is right there with Snowbird’s snowfall this winter. So while it’s been a WEIRD one, it has not been singularly tough on any one area.
LET’S TALK BIG SNOWS!
Since we’re talking “snow”, I’ll go ahead and respond to a couple of people who asked us about some of the heavier March snowfalls across the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. While we don’t seem destined to get anymore March snows THIS winter, it’s still cool to hear about what’s happened in prior Marchs. March snowfalls can not be covered without mentioning the two largest snowstorms in our history and BOTH took place in the 1990s. First was the “Storm of the Century” on March 13th of 1993. That storm dumped 56” of snow on Mount LeConte in Tennessee (above Ober Gatlinburg), 50” on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina and 44” at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. That 44” total was also witnessed in my front yard while living atop Seven Devils.
One of my memories during that storm was of Eric Thomas of WBTV-Charlotte declaring that "…this may not be just the storm of the century… but the strongest storm in the history of mankind."
That was possibly an exaggeration but it certainly was one of the strongest storms that a person would see in the course of a lifetime. I’ll probably never see another 44” snowfall in my lifetime and for the record it’s not because of “Global Warming” – which I believe to be totally bogus. That is a story for another day, but in summary I believe that one day in history, kids will be studying about how silly the people of the 1990s and early 2000s were because they actually believed that they could harm the planet to that degree.
Another huge snowstorm fell on March 19th of 1996. That one dumped huge snows across the entire Southeast. Boone, North Carolina reported 26” and other areas saw more than 30” of snow.
Nothing compares to the ’93 storm though! For the first time in history, every major airport on the east coast was closed at one time or another by that storm! Over three million people were without power at one time. A record low of 2° was recorded at Birmingham, Alabama (which saw 13” of snow as well!)
That’s enough for one day…see you guys tomorrow.
Until Next Time…
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For more information about the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic visit www.SkiSoutheast.com
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