A Foot More of Snow is Headed Our Way! Hit it while you can!

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Brad Panovich has posted his latest Skier’s Forecast Video Blog and I kind of get the feeling like someone needs to "bumb" Brad like we used to bump or hit those old juke boxes to get the record unstuck. (I know I’m showing my age, because there are a lot of you who are reading this that only know a record as something that you DO rather than a disk that has music recorded on it.)

Anyway, Brad seems to be STUCK on forecasting snow after snow after snow. As I looked around at other forecasts last night via the NWS, Dr. Ray and others- I saw NOTHING of another dumping of snow for our area. Then last night Brad compiled his forecast which forecasts a foot of new snow for the mountains of North Carolina between now and Thursday night – and perhaps as much as 15-20" at some of the favored elevations in West Virginia.

You’ll have to check out his latest Skier’s Forecast Video.

We’ve been on a record setting pace for snowfall at several ski areas, particularly those in Western North Carolina that have now seen 93" on the season. This after preseason, winter forecasts predicted about 80% of average annual snowfall for most of the ski resorts. One fearless weather guru forecasted a very specific 75" of snow for Beech Mountain this winter. We posted our own compilation of all of the prognostications and said that Beech would get about their normal amount of snowfall or 80".

We’re all wrong as Beech is now 13" over the normal or average annual snowfall total and it is only January 11th. Brad Panovich is forecasting perhaps another significant snowfall for the nest few days that could put Beech over the 100" mark on the season with several weeks left to perhaps approach, meet or BEAT the 122" that they received last season. The 2009-2010 ski season was a snowy one and nobody expected what we’re experiencing this season and that is actually pretty cool, wouldn’t you agree?


Brad did add one other comment to skiers and snowboarders of the region. He said, "This could be the last snow for two weeks, so get out and enjoy these awesome conditions."

We could not agree more! I had the pleasure of skiing at Beech on Sunday and Appalachian on Monday and I can’t tell you WHEN I have seen conditions that sweet on back to back trips to the mountains. With another big snow event forecasted for this evening through Thursday, the conditions at YOUR favorite ski hill are going to be simply BOMBER for the next few days and certainly for the MLK weekend ahead.


I often write about perception on this website. I have had a few conversations with some resort management peeps in the last few weeks about skier visits. With the North Carolina resort communities getting a lot of media coverage about all the snowfall, many regional skiers and snowboarders have opted to ski a little closer to home and haven’t felt the need to head further north to see the heavy snowfall as they’ve "needed" to do in the past. However, one look at some of the West Virginia and Maryland ski areas will tell you that there’s been plenty of snow there as well.

For example, the Tucker County ski areas of Canaan Valley and Timberline have seen 100" of snow thus far – which is about where they should be right now to meet or beat their annual average of 150" of natural snow. Snowshoe Mountain has been a "little off" their usual snowy pace but they’ve seen 76" of snow thus far this season which ONE SNOWFALL away from being on pace to meet their 180" annual snowfall average and they are forecasted to get that over the next few days. Someone smarter than I am emailed that Snowshoe has average 1.2" of snow per day over the last several winters, which during a typical 150 day season makes for their 180". We’re about at the one-half point in the season so they and the other West Virginia ski areas are right on par with their normal snowfall tallies.

The perception is that perhaps the WV ski areas are "off" a bit when that just isn’t the case. I will add, however, that as long as I have been monitoring the ski areas (15 seasons) I have never seen a season to date wherein Beech has had more snowfall that Snowshoe this late in a season. Beech has seen 93" to Snowshoe’s 76", so that could be a contributing factor as to where skier visit traffic has been heading.

Wisp Resort in Maryland is said to average 100" per season, however since we’ve been tracking them (since 2004) they have averaged 131" of snowfall. Last season they saw a crazy, great 226" of snow. At 89" of snow so far for the 2010-2011 season, they are well ahead of their average snowfall.

So things have been pretty snowy across the board. Even Ober Gatlinburg, which has seen less than average snowfalls for five out of the last six seasons, is EIGHT INCHES OVER their average annual snowfall totals already! Ober has seen 43" of snow thus far and averages 35" per season. They are only 2" below last season’s big number of 45" on the 2009-2010 season.

The only exception to this SNOWY picture is that of the Virginia ski areas which have just seen "miss after miss" from this season’s Northwest Flow Snow events. The Virginia ski areas average about 35" or so of snow per season and last year was a crazy one that sent 93" of snow to Wintergreen Resort. I remember documenting two huge snows last season where Wintergreen popped over 25" of snow on each occasion. This season they are the rest of the Virginia ski areas have only seen 4-9" of snow thus far. So they’re off some…but again with ONE HUGE SNOW EVENT even they could be at or near their normal snowfall totals for the season.

Regardless of how you crunch the numbers, we’re about one-half the way into what has been a surprisingly GREAT, snowy ski and snowboarding season thus far. If you have the chance to hit the mountains over the next couple of days Brad promises a very POWDERY SNOW EVENT with 30:1 ratios of snow over the next couple of days. Hit it while we have it.

Just Saying…

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Beech Chair and Beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains on January 9, click to enlarge!
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