First Trax

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I know that I will get a lot of agreement on this statement – I love vacationing! There’s nothing like lying in bed, listening to the consistent pulse of the ocean as wave after wave crashes into the shore. I was still asleep, in that place between a sound slumber and where you’re just beginning to wake up, when the rhythmic roar of the ocean began to get my attention. Then I woke up. That wasn’t the beach that I was hearing in my sleep (although it sounded indentical to it). It was the wind that was crashing over the top of Grandfather Mountain and funneling its way to the back of my home! We have had harder and more consistent winds here in the mountains during my 18 years of living here, but I am not certain that I’ve heard a more rhythmic pattern to the "ebb and flow" of those bursts that were building, hitting my home, and then dissipating.

Okay, I’m awake now. It was windy yesterday as well. It wasn’t one of those "blow you away days" but it was windy enough to push you around if you were on one of the ski resort slopes yesterday. The highest wind clocked at Banner Elk was 33mph, but it was consistently windy.

These winds that are dominating my thoughts this morning are quite high as well, although according to our weather station, the highest winds were at 34 mph near midnight.

FYI – as of 9am (as if on cue) the winds have died out.  Just as quickly as they came – they are gone. Literally minutes ago they were blowing hard and now they are simply GONE.

Did I mention that it is COLD AS HECK AS WELL?

The last several days have been stormy and snowy, but I also couldn’t help but notice that this morning’s weather map is almost completely clear of any precip whatsoever. There is a small bit of precip down in southern Georgia and northern Florida. There’s also a slight bit of rain in Louisiana. If you look really hard you can see some light snow up in Montana. But that’s it. The rest of the United States is clear as a bell. Windy – but clear.

It’s kind of hard for a novice weather fan like me to dicern where all of the moisture is going to come from to bring about all of the snow that the real weather practitioners are still saying is heading our way. It is and we’ll talk more about that in a moment or two. 


January will go down as one of the snowier ones that we’ve had in a while and particularly further north into West Virginia and Maryland. However even here in the Western North Carolina Mountains we saw a lot of natural snow. It was also a cold month for the most part. The average temperature for most of the mountain region was around 29°. The highest temp was near 60° on January 4th. The lowest temp was minus 3° in Banner Elk, -5° at Ski Beech.

Beech Mountain’s Gil Adam recorded 17.8" of snow for the month and teamed up with a lot of good snowmaking temps that made for good ski conditions for all but a few days during the month.


During the day Friday I received a few emails that alluded to the fact that the hoped for big snow that was heading our way was, in fact, beginning to fizzle out into just a little snow here and there. So another good chance for the deep powder was gone.

Then around mid day I received an email from Charlotte’s NewsChannel 36 WCNC-TV, Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich who wrote, "Yeah I’ll have to do a storm update for Monday-Wednesday, looking more and more confident in a major storm now!"

I’m so confused! I don’t know what to believe! One meteorologist tells me that nothing special is coming our way and another says "look for a big storm".

Of course I guess a big storm IS coming this way, it just looks like it is going to be out over the Atlantic!

So….for now at least….I’m going to forget that anything MIGHT be edging our way and just be happy that it is cold as heck and that the talented snowmaking crews of our region are blasting away creating some manmade powder for us to play on! We’ll take a closer look on Sunday as to what to expect for Monday and beyond.

For now, Saturday will be nice as the winds are now gone! The high should be around the mid 30s and overnight lows are expected to dip back to 22° (more snowmaking!). Sunday will be awesome with soft snow (highs around 50° or slightly warmer) and then SOME KIND OF SYSTEM will be coming in on Monday that for now looks like a little snow and highs in the 30s. Brutal cold (AND MAYBE SOME LIGHT SNOW) is coming in on Tuesday and Wednesday with highs in the teens and 20s and lows in 10° range. We’ve found no weather gurus willing to talk "snow totals" just yet, but they are all hinting (except for Brad’s mid Friday email) that the snow totals may be on the lighter side. The feel that we’re getting from these guys (we’re trying to read between the lines) is that the higher, snow-prone elevations might see 5" of snow over the 2-3 days and the rest of the southern Appalachians may see 2-3". That’s just our best "read" on these guys right now.

We’re certain that we’ll hear more from them pretty soon and we’ll update you ASAP.

Some of the biggest snow events ever have been those that only an inch or two were forecasted. THERE I GO AGAIN!


I heard some nice things from several parents and kids from the first and second grade class at Valle Crucis Elementary School this week. Several parents were singing the praises of Gunther Jochl of Sugar Mountain. Gunther provided free ski passes for all of the first and second graders and their parents, teachers, etc. He also sprung for free snow tubing, ice skating AND on top of that he provided a free pizza party for the whole crew in attendance! Way to go Gunther!

I’ve rattled on too much this morning…so to save us both some time…just go check the SLOPE REPORT page for the details on slope openings and conditions! It will be a great weekend to ski and ride!

Here are a couple of notables:

Sugar Mountain reported an inch of new snow on Friday and they made snow overnight. Here’s the news: Conditions are SO GREAT that there will be no snowmaking today during sessions! They are 100% open!

Ski Beech reported 1" of new snow in the last 24 hours and they look AWESOME this morning after a pre-session grooming took place. They are making snow to open more terrain as soon as possible. We’ve haven’t heard whether they have been able to get that third pump installed yet.

Be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com  to see what’s happening into the Virginias, Tennessee, and Maryland ski resort areas.

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]   

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