Thursday and Friday Should be AWESOME on the Snow!

[Insert the sound of crickets churping here.]

Typically we receive a fair amount of email after each story is posted daily. Yesterday? THREE! Three emails. I guess that is what MATH does to a website! If you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll need to read Wednesday’s post. Remember that we archive every post (good or bad) and you can see that at:  Wednesday’s FirsTrax Ski News

One emailer wrote, "I don’t think all that math has a place on a ski and snowboarding website. I couldn’t comprehend all those tons of snow and doubt that most of your readers care! I’m betting you put a few people to sleep!" – James Bryant, Eastover, South Carolina


Hey, if I can be credited with helping a few needy souls get a little extra nap time then that’s a good thing. It’s funny though – I know what James was alluding to. I get a ton of weather data from different sources who share all that Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and quasi periodic climate patterns talk and my eyes start glazing over. All I want to know is "is it going to cold and how much snow is on the way".

I’m betting the same is true for most of you guys. You want to know what kind of condition your favorite ski area is in and the rest is fluff. But hey, I have to fill this block with a little sumpin/sumpin so yesterday it was math. If you want to know the truth, I figured my skiMail and personal INBOX was going to be full of emails telling me what a dufus I was by incorrectly figuring the information that I was trying to share.

You guys usually guide me as to what we’re going to write about anyway and since Cynthia Marquette of Richmond, Virginia asked, we delivered…hopefully! So Wednesday – it was math.


I KNEW that SOMEONE was going to email me about the math. Two people asked me the following question and I’m paraphrasing since the comment/question came from two different people:

"I (we) did some math and based on your math the NC ski areas have nearly 790,000 tons of snow which is more than any of the other states even though they have less acreage. How is that possible?"

Obviously we used the base depth that each resort is reporting. For example, Appalachian Ski Mountain is reporting an average of 110" of snow across 27 acres. The deepest base being reported in West Virginia is via Winterplace Resort with 56" average base on 90 acres. Similarly, Bryce Resort in Virginia is reporting a deeper, 62" average base on just 25 acres.

So it is safe to say that the smaller ski areas have snowmaking plants that are as powerful as the larger resorts and since they can focus that snowmaking on a smaller area, that makes for more snow depth.

I can tell you that pound for pound, Appalachian can lay down a truckload of snow in one night on those 27 acres. Their hill is dotted with a powerful snowmaking system and with that in mind they can build a deeper base that is focused on lesser acreage. Deeper base depths made the difference. 


As I walked out of my home this morning it was quickly obvious to me that the temperature was vastly "warmer" that is has been lately. My truck thermometer read 22°. I don’t remember the last time I saw a temp above 20° in the AM. There haven’t been many days where the temperature has been above 20° at any time during the day!

The temps this morning are all over the place. We seem to be experiencing an inversion in some locations. Check these 8am temps out:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 23°
Beech Mountain Resort – 39°
Cataloochee Ski Area – 24°
Sapphire Valley – 22°
Sugar Mountain – 40°
Wolf Ridge Resort – 19°

Bryce Resort – 25°
Massanutten Resort – 23°
The Homestead – 34°
Wintergreen Resort – 41°

Canaan Valley – 19°
Snowshoe Mountain – 19°
Timberline Resort – 19°
Winterplace Resort – 20°

Wisp Resort – 20°
Ober Gatlinburg – 35°


Here’s what should be a VERY OBVIOUS tip! Go ski or ride today if you have the opportunity to do so. There’s more snow on the mountains right now than at any time in recent history. The conditions will be amazing and at most locations you’re going to see sunny skies and mild temps that may reach into the upper 40s and low 50s across the region.

Friday will be another STELLAR day to ride. Ditto that for MLK Monday. The two days in between? Not so much. Saturday DAY SESSIONS should be good with cloudy skies as the forecasted rain looks to be headed in later at night. So SaturDAY should be good. Saturday night sessions are looking wet – as are Sunday’s sessions. Into every life a little rain must fall. We’ve been blessed with some great weather of late, and it’s a little bit of a bummer to be seeing some rain hitting during an all-important holiday period like the MLK Weekend. However it IS what it is.

So get out today, Friday and early Saturday. Then chill Saturday night and Sunday Take in some of the great eateries near your favorite ski hill, and then rest on Sunday…and hit it hard on Monday as the forecast looks pretty good.

Meteorologist Brad Panovich will be sharing his latest Skier’s Forecast Video tonight and we’ll share it with you Friday AM so let’s all take a look at that before changing any plans for the weekend.

Brad told us on Wednesday that the last part of January still looked colder than normal and that we’re in for more colder and snowier weather than normal. However as we look at other resources, we’re seeing the last two weeks of January to be more normal for this time of year with highs in the low to mid 40s and lows to be in the 20s and 30s. NORMAL/AVERAGE for this time of year in Banner Elk is 38° for highs and 21° for lows…so we’ll see.

WE’RE ON DAY 27 and 48!

We’re tracking how many days in a row that we’ve experienced measureable snow pack in the area. We’re not talking snow base at the ski areas. They’re loaded with snow! In this case we’re talking snow pack in the communities around the ski resorts.

In the Mountains of Western North Carolina (we’re tracking the High Country specifically) we’ve now had natural snow on the ground for 27 straight days. It has now snowed 18 of those 27 days. (There’s lots of snow around Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain as well as many of the surrounding communities.) If you’re headed to Wolf Ridge or Cataloochee you’ll find the same is true!)

David Lesher’s Canaan Valley / Tucker County, WV weather center has reported 48 straight days with snow on the ground and snowfall on 34 of those 48 days. That record is dittoed at Snowshoe, Wisp and Winterplace Resorts!


Sapphire Valley is NOT open today. We received an email from someone disgruntled over driving up from Atlanta to visit for the weekend and they saw from both Sapphire’s site and from another reporting service that Sapphire was open. We’ve reported accurately that they are NOT open until Friday. They close every Tuesday through Thursday even though that has not been reflected all season long via several regional and national reporting services. (That’s why you should only get your news right here.)

Ditto that news on Canaan Valley. Some reporting services are reporting Canaan as open for night skiing. They are not. Monday through Thursday Canaan does day sessions only.

We’ve been keeping a report card on accurate reporting from ours and other reporting services and although all of them have accurate reporting for some or many ski areas, most are reporting inaccurate data for two to four ski areas nearly every day. One regional ski association website has not been correct even ONE DAY this entire season. Not once.

Many national reporting services get their data from the resorts and unfortunately some resorts don’t even update their own content but every two days and in some cases longer than that.

As much as we’d LOVE to say we’ve been accurate every day, we’ve caught errors on our own report twice so far this season. We have gotten it right though – on 45 of 47 days thus far this season. That’s a 95.7% accuracy rating and we’ll strive for higher…but we think you’ll take an "A" most of the time.

(Note: Our "A" is based on the fact that we are reporting or getting reports from the ski resorts themselves. It has been called to our attention that in at least two cases, resorts have reported trails open that were not upon arrival. That happens from time to time. However, I’ve yet to go to a resort with the idea of skiing every single slope and trail. Give me some good terrain and great conditions and I’m usually pretty satisfied. However we ARE always investigating your comments and reports to us…so PLEASE continue to provide us with your take on conditions and more…as you visit the ski areas of our region.)

That’s it for today. Enjoy the milder temps today and check back within the next 24 hours to see the latest weather news.

Check out the Snow Report at  and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

SSAA: 0 for 47/ saphopenNOT/canaanNIGHTnot/ /self 45/47

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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.