15% More Snow My _____! How Much Snow Did Fall this Season and Where?

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First of all, before I dive right in, man I want to thank Rudy Ryback for stepping in and doing a really nice job of handling FirsTrax for us this season. He took over those duties from Kenny Griffin this season and handled that reporting well. Kudos to you Rudy!

I did some rough calculating this morning and by a rough estimate either myself, Kenny Griffin, Rudy Ryback and a couple of morning, emergency stand-ins over the years – have provided over 2,990 morning snow reports – gobbling up at least 14,000 hours. That is a LOT of daylight basically meaning that in the last 23 years, we’ve spent 1.6 years of it typing away at snow reporting! Jeesh, I just got tired!

So the fact that Rudy stepped in and did such a fine job for us this season – really took a load off of me personally and Kenny Griffin as well.

As we get closer to the official end of the season this Sunday, I’ll have many more to thank.
For now…I’m going to talk natural snow…or the lack of it; where it fell, etc.

We are at the end of the season now with perhaps just four days left (unless Catalaloochee pulls a surprise bonus day. So today’s FirsTrax will take a slightly different look/feel to it. If you came here for the SNOW REPORT, you can watch it below or click over to the SNOW REPORT page. Be sure to click on and turn the volume up.

By the way, the photo that leads into this story is NOT my caving into some support of global warming or the newest phraseology (since that one didn’t work out) “climate change”. I’m still in the corner of the fact that weather moves/changes in cycles. We’ll see. I will admit that it has been too long since a cold/snowy cycle. We need to all watch “The Day After Tomorrow” and open our doors and windows! That would be some stash to ski and ride!

I have had a lot of you email me either asking about or claiming just how little snow has been falling over the last several years. So this one’s for you guys….you asked and I put in the work so you didn’t have to!

Here are the snow numbers for 2018-2019 with some comments.

Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#1 – Snowshoe Mountain Resort  107″  180″  59%
According to SNOWSHOE, they’ve only had 97″ of snow this season, making it 53.8% of average. The SNOWIEST place in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic this season only saw 54-59% of their average snowfall. That warrants the question, “Does snow fall when a resort is not officially open?” We think the answer is “YES”…hence our 107” tally.
In the last 14 seasons Snowshoe has averaged 145.6″ of snowfall…meeting or surpassing the 180″ only 4 times in those 14 seasons. The biggest was the ’09-’10 season when 229″ fell. The 2017 season was pretty good with 173″ falling. Regardless, Snowshoe saw some amazing powder days with more snow than the rest of the resorts in the region. Perception…perception.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#2 – Canaan Valley Resort  98.1″  180″  54.5%
One of the snowiest spots in the region annually AND the second snowiest spot THIS SEASON only saw 54.5% off their annual average snowfall. It didn’t feel that way though as there always seemed to be snow on the ground during Justin Harris’ mountain zen videos. As snowy as Canaan is, they have only hit the 180″ mark during THREE of the last fifteen years. The biggest snow season were ’12-’13 with 221.8″ and ’09-’10 with 250.8″.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#3 – Timberline Resort  82.8″  180″  46%
Here is another, “Does snowfall count when a resort is CLOSED?” We still say YES and therefore in reality Timberline ALSO saw 98.1″ or so of snow this season. However, there’s been NOTHING REAL about the situation up at Timberline Four Seasons Resort. They haven’t EVEN HAD four seasons in the last two years, opting not to open last Summer or Fall.
As most of our readers know, there is real chance that Timberline won’t even BE on our snow report next season unless there is some miracle intervention and they can open. A real shame. You know, if a thousand of us (I’m in if you guys are!) would ante up $7,000 each, we could probably buy the place. I don’t have a clue of what the real price tag is so that was probably JUST STUPID of me to post.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#4 – Wisp Resort  79″  133.5″  59%
You know I seem to remember that Wisp used to share a promotional, annual average of 100″. The crazy thing is they topped 100″ of snowfall so many of the last 15 years (9 to be exact) and with seasons that tallied 155″, 184″, 152″, 226″, 124″, etc…that I think that I MIGHT have changed their annual snowfall averages myself. (Really I might have.)
This season was (and still is) a great one to be loving on the Garrett County ski resort. While they may have only reached 79″ and maybe 79% of their reported average snowfall, it FELT a lot snowier than that with the whole area covered in snow on the ground for a large part of the season. It was just never deep snow. Their best season was…drum roll…yep the ’09-’10 season with 226″. I think I was there during some of that.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#5 – Beech Mountain Resort  64.3″  80″  80%
Beech almost hit their average snowfall during the 2017 season when they saw 78.6″ of snowfall. The last time they hit it was during the ’13-’14 season when 82″ fell. From 2009 to 2013 they saw four seasons where they surpassed the average. 2005-2008 were sub-par seasons. Beech’s best seasons were in the ’10-’11 season with 130.5″ and the ’09-’10 season with 122″. I am ready for more of those! Beech was the snowiest resort in the Tarheel state this season.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#6 – Wintergreen Resort  44″  34″  129%
It isn’t often when a Virginia ski area sees more snow than the High Country’s (NC Mountains) get. However, Wintergreen saw some good snows this season and surpassed their average of 34″ by 10″ and at 129% of average, they led the way in getting better-than-average snow. Interestingly, they have met or surpassed their average in 8 of the last 15 seasons. It might be time for them to UP their promoted average! Their snowiest season? Back in ’04-’05 when 57″ fell.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#7 – Winterplace Resort  44″  100″  44%
Even though Winterplace promotes 100″ annually, they have more often than not seen about the same snowfall number annually that Sugar and Beech Mountain have. I’ve often marveled at comparing temps and snowfall at these three mountains and how often they are about the same. THIS season the bigger storms just missed the Ghent, WV ski resort. Actually Winterplace has only hit or surpassed the 100″ mark in TWO of the last fifteen seasons. Their best season was during the snowy, ’09-’10 season when 161″ of snow fell. We need more of those! The only other year that they topped their average was way back in the ’04-’05 season when 101″ fell.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#8 – Cataloochee Ski Area  39.1″  40″  98%
By ALL accounts, Cataloochee has had a great season. They are actually one of the resorts that we will claim hit their annual average of 40″ per season that they promote. This was the first season since ’12-’13 that they did so. Their best season in the last fifteen was back in ’05-’06 when they reached 67″. In the last 15 seasons, they have hit or surpassed their average just 7 times.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#9 – Bryce Resort  35.3″  30″  117%
Yep Bryce was in the snowier-than-usual state of Virginia and they picked up some nice snowfalls that tallied pretty good for the Basye, VA ski resort. They exceeded 30″ annually six times in the last ten seasons with the most snow in one season being 75.8″ that fell during the ’13-’14 season.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#10 – Appalachian Ski Mountain  32.3″  50″  65%
It has been nine seasons since App hit its average annual snow when back during the 2010-11 season when they saw 62.6″ of snow. 2009 they saw 71.8″. The previous five seasons were sub par snow seasons. Good thing Brad and his gang can create a manmade blizzard.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#11 – Omni Homestead Resort  32″  50″  64%
The Homestead (as most of us still call it) had a good season. It started a little sluggish but they enjoyed a stellar season even if natural snow was off significantly. It might be time that Homestead changes their promoted 50″ of annual snow as they have only hit that mark in ONE of the last twelve seasons. They have averaged 26.2″ in that span and their best season in 15 was back in the great ’09-’10 season when they hit 54″.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#12 – Massanutten Resort  30″  35″  85%
Unlike Bryce and Wintergreen, Massanutten was just caught short on some of the nicer storms this winter. They have hit their average of 35″ only 5 times in the last 15 seasons. However, they had a whopper 70″ snow season back in ’09-’10. They got close this season!


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#13 – Wolf Ridge Resort  30″  65″  46%
It might be time for Orville to hit on those creeps that bought up and copyrighted the words “Wolf Laurel”. Literally every business – even things like Wolf Laurel Realty and Wolf Laurel heating and air had to change their name. At about that same time, their luck seemed to change and not for the good.
Orville and company have really not had ANYTHING in the way of consistent weather to work with there ever since. As if the real estate crash of 2008 wasn’t bad enough, they’ve had a revolving door of interested buyers that fell through; fires that destroyed their beautiful lodge building, lifts and more. They quickly doubled the resort in trail count for all of one season and have never been able to get it back open.
Maybe a complete name change to Ꮼlf ᎳᎤrᎡl
How cool would THAT be? It is “Wolf Laurel” in Cherokee. I kind of like it and I’d bet it would snow more…and change their luck. Seasons have been pretty short at the great, little ski area recently. I got off on a tangent, but Wolf has not seen 65″ of snow but THREE times in the last fifteen years. The 2017-2018 season was ONE of them. Other than that, it has been slim. Their best was during the ’09-’10 season with 100″.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#14 – Sapphire Valley Resort  15″  30″  50%
Not hard to see that Sapphire is at one-half of average snow this season. It MAY be time for them to promote lessor snowfall on their literature as they have not seen 30″ of snowfall in a single season since the ’09-’10 season when they had 32.9″. They hit or surpassed 30″ ONCE in the 13 seasons we’ve tracked them.


Resort ’18-’19 snow Avg Annual % of Avg
#15 – Ober Gatlinburg  9.5″  35″  27%
The climate has just been “different” for a while now over in the Smokies. Ober has not had 35″ TOTAL when you combine each of the last THREE seasons. 9.5″ this season; 9″ last season and 11″ the season before that. It’s a great thing they can make snow at 70°! It has been nine years since they hit or surpassed their average when in back-to-back seasons (09-10 & 10-11) they hit 45″ each of those years.


As I was wrapping this up, Joe Stevens emailed me a story written by a friend of Herb Stevens (of the Skiing Weatherman fame) who wrote an interesting piece about his take on “Climate Change”. I’ll probably post it tomorrow. Stay tuned.


In closing – the crazy thing is, this HAS been a darn GREAT season, despite the less than average snowfall totals AND I guarantee you when the numbers come out for where the temperatures were for the season…I’d bet my house that 2018-2019 was a significantly milder than usual winter with significantly less sub freezing nights and days than normal as well.

Yet another testimonial for the great investments that all of our ski resorts have made in snowmaking over the years.

Be sure to check the SNOW REPORT for those ski areas that are open!

Email as you wish at [email protected]


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