Whew was Friday cold!  It was one of the coldest days of the season thus far which means lots and lots of snowmaking took place.  I haven’t done the morning report in a couple weeks now (this is Kenny by the way), and I am pretty stoked on what I saw while doing the snow report just now.  I am a little ashamed to say that I didn’t realize we have 14 ski areas open for business now.  That’s awesome!

As mentioned, yesterday was bitterly cold, especially in the morning.  Today, we’re thawing out and temperatures are much warmer.  Canaan Valley and Timberline went from a minus 1 degree reading on the snow report yesterday to 40 degrees this morning.  That’s a pretty drastic change.  Elsewhere, most of the other resorts are seeing temps that are generally 25-30 degrees warmer.  Check out the weather station at Beech below.  You can see temperatures have actually been increasing overnight.

temps-rising-beech

The Virginia resorts are actually the coldest spots this morning, which makes sense since we’re in a cold air damming event.  Bryce takes the cake this morning as they are at 28 degrees, the only resort that is sub freezing this AM.

The ice is visible on the Wisp cam this morning. Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, there is scattered drizzle/freezing rain/ice right now across the region.  The heaviest stuff is up into northern West Virginia and Maryland.  Wisp looks to be seeing the worst of it right now and they have a delayed opening due to the ice.  They even have “Icy” listed as their primary surface on the snow report.  No, seriously!  I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.  The webcam image to the right is showing that they aren’t lying.

You’ll see on the snow report that only a few resorts are marked as having made snow.  This is a little misleading today due to the weird temperature swing overnight.  Many resorts have actually made snow over the past 24 hours, it’s just that they stopped doing so during the day on Friday.  Most ski areas base that stat on OVERNIGHT snowmaking, so that’s probably why it’s toggled off for a majority of them.  I know for a fact that I saw the guns on at a few places yesterday on the webcams.

I had a pretty gnarly experience with snow guns last weekend!

Speaking of snowmaking guns, I feel like going on a mini rant right now.  It always happens around this time of year, but I see a lot of people on ski area’s social media pages complaining about the resorts making snow during operating hours.  I think it is dumb.  We all love snowmaking and without it we’d get far less of a season here, but we hate skiing/riding when the guns are on.  Let’s be honest, it does detract a bit from the experience.  But, it is NECESSARY.  Think about it this way, if a resort didn’t make snow during the day their snowmaking time would literally be cut in half.  HALF.  That is significant, especially early in the season when they are trying to build as big a base depth as possible and get as much terrain open as possible.  So think about that next time you get angry at a ski area for keeping the guns on during the day.  And don’t go on Facebook and give a resort a crappy 2 star rating simply because they did so!

Outlook

Mike has done a good job this week of going over the weather outlook for the run up to Christmas (is it really only a week away?!), so I won’t rehash it too much.  Just know that the snow conditions for the holidays look to be pretty good.  Conditions won’t be all-time, they won’t be terrible, but they should be pretty good.  There will be snow on the slopes and plenty of terrain to be ridden.  I’m personally pumped as my fiancé and I will be at Snowshoe for the week after Christmas.

As for the weather, this weekend looks a little wet and dreary, especially tomorrow, but colder temperatures will return this week and we should see several nights of snowmaking.  Monday even looks like we could see around the clock snowmaking which is ever better!  Basically, the snowmakers should be able to do their thing.

For some perspective, last year at this time I was writing an article about how historically warm the month of December was.  The morning reports included the use of the word “bleak” in the title.  Some of the resorts even re-opened golf courses for the holidays because the slopes were closed!  I’m pretty sure only 1 or 2 resorts were even open for the holidays.  This season has been a slower start than some recent years and lacking in the way of natural snow, but it’s been so much better than last year.  So much.

A Quick Look

Here’s a little state by state look at things right now.  For a complete look at stats and what not, head on over to the snow report page.

North Carolina

Every ski area is open in the state now as Sapphire Valley started turning the lifts yesterday.  I hate how they seem to be continuing the trend of reporting manmade snow as “New Snow” (they did not get 12-21″ of snow in the past 24 hours), but whatever I guess.  We’ll make sure to report it properly.

  • App is open today with 10 trails.  Their midnight blast hours are in effect tonight, meaning you can ski and snowboard until…you guessed it…midnight.
  • Beech Mountain opens Robbin’s Run today.  That is my favorite trail out there!  They now have 9 of 17 slopes open.
  • Cataloochee begins night skiing today and tubing opened down at the bottom of the mountain.  They’re at 10 of 18 slopes.
  • Sugar continues to operate with stellar conditions and 9 open trails.
  • Wolf Ridge is up to 6 open trails now and is open to the top!

West Virginia

  • Snowshoe leads the way right now in terms of open terrain in the region.  They’re at 28 trails now on 106 acres.  Even better, Silver Creek is open for day and night sessions!
  • Canaan Valley is up to 10 open trails now and the popular Timber Trail opens to the top today.
  • Timberline is still on track to open next weekend.
  • Winterplace is second in the region right now with 18 open trails.  Sweet!  Tubing opens today out there as well.

Virginia

  • Bryce Resort is almost 100% open as they are operating today with 7 open trails.
  • Massanutten made snow overnight and are open today and tonight with 6 trails.  On a side note, their new snow report page is fantastic.

    Massanutten looked good yesterday!
  • The Omni Homestead opens next weekend.
  • Wintergreen opened yesterday (woohoo!) and are skiing and riding on 9 trails today.  They will be night skiing.  I always like their Mountain Message blog and here’s a video they posted yesterday for opening day.

Tennessee

Ober Gatlinburg re-opened this week to the delight of many.  They will be skiing and riding on 5 trails today.  Tubing is open as well.

Maryland

Finally, Wisp is open today but as mentioned earlier they have a delayed opening due to ice.  It took me so long to write this post though that by the time I publish it they will be open with 5 slopes and 4 lifts.


Most resorts are generally 25-50% open.  Look for that number to increase this week.  Hopefully anyways…

So that’s that.  Enjoy your Saturday and shoot me an email if you’d like at [email protected].

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Kenny Griffin
Kenny grew up in Concord, NC, which is right outside of Charlotte. He graduated from UNC Charlotte in December 2010 with a degree in meteorology and joined Ski Southeast immediately thereafter. In addition to his Appnet duties, he helps with day to day operations of Ski Southeast and is also in charge of our sister site, ResortCams.com. In his own words... "I discovered this website a few years back and visit it on a daily basis. I lurked on the messageboard for a while before becoming actively involved and have met some very cool people because of it. Needless to say, I am VERY stoked to be a part of the team and I think I have a unique insight into what people want from the site seeing as I used to be on the outside looking in. I'm sure some people who are reading this have seen me on the mountain before. I am frequently at Beech Mountain and it’s not hard to spot me, as I usually have a camera on my head. I love to document my days on snow and have posted some videos on the messageboard before. If you ever see me out there, feel free to say hey!" You can email Kenny directly at [email protected]