A Rainy Sunday Promises to Become a Snowy Monday with Significant Snowfall

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A sub-title for this post could be:

Leave My Ski Mountain Town Out of Your Stupid Rankings…

Check the SNOW REPORT as at least three ski resorts have already suspended ski and snowboarding ops for today. Some areas are expected to get around an inch of rain and possibly high winds and heavy downpours at times. The temperatures are expected to nosedive around nightfall and snow showers should develop. While two-to-three inches of snow is forecasted for much of the ski mountain tops of the region, higher elevations could see much more. The WNC mountains like Beech, Sugar and Seven Devils could see up to 4″. Snowshoe Mountain, Canaan and Timberline could see 3-5″ of snow Sunday night and perhaps another 1-2″ possible for Monday.

The better news is that temperatures should provide for LOTS of snowmaking Sunday night and around the clock on Monday, Monday night and right through sometime on Friday when we’ll see more normal highs around 40° or so.

The Virginia ski areas might see a bit less snow and slightly higher temperatures, but they too should see plenty of snowmaking opportunities throughout the week.

Another Wet Sunday…

It is going to be a wet one, with rain showers expected for much of the day. One more note about today’s weather, before I dive into my first Sunday Ramble of the season.

Photo of the Day (Used up top): A Handful of Snowboarding Diehards prep to head down Upper Shawneehaw at Beech Mountain this morning.

I always enjoy the differing mindsets or actions/comments taken when bad weather is approaching. At least three ski areas in the southeast and mid-Atlantic – Appalachian Ski Mountain, Massanutten Resort and Timberline Mountain – have already suspended ops for Sunday, citing the need to conserve snow and protection of guests.

Meanwhile, Snowshoe Mountain shared, “Snow conditions will be sneaky good and lift lines non-existent, but you will want a good waterproof outer layer if you’re going out.”

Love it…

For you weather archivists out there:

Back on this date in 2018, MUCH of the region was covered in snow. In fact, the record snowfall for this date in Blowing Rock was on December 10th, 2018 when 7″ of snow fell. Canaan Valley had 35.4″ of snow fell. (Bring back those days, right?)

…and Now, My Sunday Ramble…

A buddy of mine is WITH the National Security Agency and he gave me this cup. Click to Enlarge.

It is a long one, so sit back; grab your coffee and (hopefully) hang with me for a bit. (It is a tradition that once a year I feel obliged to mention my trusty (NSA) National Security Agency cup. So there. Thanks again Emil.)

For those of you who are new to SkiSoutheast.com and ResortCams.com – those of us who post here are digital nomads. One of the more well-known, online ski reporting websites has reached out to us on the average of twice a week lately and they are always promoting that we are such great ‘on snow reporters’ that we should join up of sorts. It’s nice to be recognized, but the truth is, one visit to such national websites shows that most barely recognize that we HAVE skiing and snowboarding here in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. Their core pages only reflecting the “BIG NAMES” in ski resorts nationally and you have to hunt for anything to do with our southeastern ski areas. When you DO find content, it is often showing incorrect information.

What is a digital nomad? One of the definitions is that a digital nomad is someone who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing, rather than from a fixed location. I suppose with the appropriate focus, one could “earn a living” doing this. However, I prefer to share that those of us who post here regularly, do so out of a passion for the sport of skiing and snowboarding – and specifically out of a love for the ski mountain towns that dot the region. MORE about OUR ski mountain towns in a moment, but bare with me.

Way back in the early days of SkiNC and SkiSoutheast, when digital cameras first hit the market in force, we formed a network of what we called “on snow reporters” and we invited hundreds of ski & snowboard enthusiasts to share their day on the snow. At first, only a handful of friends of the website would post a dozen or so photos. We’d rarely see video, but that was always great to see – although downloading them was an all afternoon deal.

Later I remember, having to spend a few hours daily, first downloading the jpg and video files, and then combing through a few hundred photos and perhaps a dozen videos to find 2-3 photos that were really worthy of sharing. I mean, we SHARED many and some of those old clunkers are still on this website. We gave away lift tickets to the best of the best and even gave away a free vacation or two long the way. THANKFULLY, we were able to abandon that “program” as cameras became more mainstream and the internet sped up to get them to us faster, downloaded and shared on the website.

Somehow, a “few blinks” later and now everyone on and off the slopes is carrying around a portable computer (called a phone) with them. Everyone is sharing content on a dozen or more online platforms and gaining access to high-resolution photography and videos is just a few clicks away, if you know where to look.

Our New SkiSoutheast.com Discord Channel is ONE of those platforms and in no time at all since launching, we already have a virtual “ski club” of over 300+ who are actively sharing stories, comments, trip reports, photos and videos to each other. Check it out and JOIN US for FREE!: 

Now, with internet connectivity available on and off the snow at most every resort AND with everyone walking around with their phones such that they can share LIVE streams…everyone is becoming OUR definition of a digital nomad. Throw in the fact that so many of you who are reading this post are riding the mountain these days with a GoPro or something similar attached to your helmet – and we have more ability to snatch, grab and share our experiences on the snow.

We don’t need no stinking on snow reporters – we have you guys.

Our team here at SkiSoutheast IS growing, but we want to invite any of you who has a passion for the sport and a love for your favorite mountain here in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic to share your experiences; share your photos, videos and simply just SHARE what you find in the way of conditions and personal experiences at whatever ski area you visit. You can email me at [email protected] or hop over to the DISCORD CHANNEL.

Do a good enough job of it and we’ll probably invite you to join our team.


Okay, I WENT THERE on purpose. I purposely used the phrase, “Favorite Ski Mountain Town” as a segue to this NEXT part of my Sunday ramble.

Recently I have been silent and unresponsive to the dozens of emails and texts that I have personally received asking me first – whether or not I had seen the USA TODAY story on December 1, 2023 sharing the TOP TEN SKI TOWNS IN NORTH AMERICA. The next most asked question was, “Mike, WHY ARE YOU NOT SHARING the story?”

You are welcome to go and check it out yourself.

So I guess I AM NOW sharing the story and I may catch some heat from some locals, friends and business owners, but if you ask anyone with ANY knowledge of ski towns all across America to name their TOP TEN, you will get the usual:

Park City
Sun Valley
Crested Butte
Beaver Creek
Mammoth Mountain
Deer Valley
Lake Tahoe
Whistler Blackcomb

I could go on…

Bend, Oregon
Jackson Hole

Do any of you see a ski town located in the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic among those? There IS a reason. I MOVED to the wonderful, ski mountain towns of Banner Elk, and Seven Devils, North Carolina in 1990. I visited this place a couple of times and it got its hooks in me very quickly. The moment I figured out how I could carve out a living here, I moved. So call me a HUGE fan. I am VERY biased and feel VERY blessed to call the High Country of North Carolina my home.

Before I get deeper into this part of my ramble, I need to share, YES, I have seen the USA TODAY story that lists Banner Elk, NC as THE NUMBER 6 BEST SKI TOWN IN AMERICA.

Kind of felt that bags of money were involved. Maybe drugs? Maybe both? You guys KNOW I’m kidding, right?

My knee-jerk thought was – I wonder how much Gunther and Kim had to pay USA TODAY. I AM KIDDING about whether or not there was even a chance of that happening, but it WAS my first thought.

My mind quickly went to the ski towns that I have visited and my thoughts were – well, you know, I DO love me some Banner Elk, Beech Mountain and Blowing Rock….but TOP 6???


Fresh Snow:
Okay, you have to have snow and preferrably lots of it. Around the NC Mountains, we might get 80″ of fresh snow in a good season and a lot less in recent years. So maybe I’ll give us a C+ or B- there.

Great Snow Making:
Okay, while that MIGHT make our ski AREAS great, it has nothing to do with the making of a great ski town. While I’d grade every snowmaking crew in the Southeast with an A++++, snowmaking is not part of the making of a great ski town.

Fantastic Restaurants and Bars:
Hmmmm. Banner Elk bars. The Barra is pretty good. Blind Elk Tap room is cool. Banner Elk Cafe is not really a bar, but Les and Cindy Broussard run a fantastic little cafe, and restaurant – and it HAS a bar. Let’s see – other fantastic restaurants – maybe Artisanal and the Chef’s Table are fantasic. Stonewalls is fantastic. The Louisiana Purchase is right there. Sorrento’s Bistro is awesome…

Good stuff, but overall, compared to ski mountain towns listed up top…I’d have to grade Banner Elk as a “B” in comparison.

Ummmmmm, no.

Accommodations, Accommodations, Accommodations
Here’s where I think ALL of the ski towns that are traditionally mentioned nationally simply dwarf Banner Elk, Boone and Blowing Rock all put together. We simply don’t HAVE much in the way of luxury, getaway accommodations – other than slopeside vacation homes and not everyone will plunk down $5,000-$10,000 for a few days there. We have a ton of nice, little roadside inns – more so in Blowing Rock than Banner Elk…so I’d have to grade our COMPARATIVE accommodations as “simply lacking”. GREAT, but certainly not worthy of a top 6 ranking.

So, YES, VIRGINIA, I read the story, and as hard as I tried to keep my local-bias as a guiding force, I had to question what the writers were smoking when they came up with the ranking and wrote the piece.

I was at The Bayou, in Banner Elk Friday night having a shrimp po’ boy and a couple of beers. The subject of the “Number 6 ranking” came up. So did drugs. Drugs HAD to be involved. (Not at the restaurant, but with whoever did the ranking and wrote that story.)

That said, I want to say that I don’t CARE about rankings. Truth is, I PREFER to go along with many locals around here who drive around with “Boone SUCKS” decals on their vehicles. We want to kind of keep the place to ourselves. Sure, we want the ski areas and all businesses to be successful, but the less people know about us the better. Am I right?

These things are everywhere up here!

One of the waiters at The Bayou Friday night was walking around in one of my favorite sweatshirts. It read, “Banner Elk, A Drinking Town, With a Skiing Problem.”

That kind of sums it up for most of us.

Last night, my conversation with friends DID turn into WHAT MAKES Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain, Boone, Maggie Valley, Mars Hill, Sugar Mountain, Basye, Hot Springs, Wintergreen, Nellysford, McGaheysville, Canaan Valley, Davis, Slatyfork, Snowshoe, Ghent, McHenry and Gatlinburg so awesome is the people and the relationships we have with fellow mountain folk.

When I first moved up to Seven Devils I found a small town sense of localism that’s borne by community and some kind of we are-in-this-togetherism. Every small town has that, but ski towns have it in spades. I found that out the hard way when early in my ski-writing days I wrote a fairly scathing piece on Beech Mountain Resort. (More accurately, it was on the GM at the time.) It didn’t matter that everything I wrote was true. I incurred the wrath that IS part of being part of a small ski town. I THOUGHT I was part of it. It took a while, but this place gets its hooks in you. You get sucked in quickly and you WANT to be a part of it. However, there’s kind of two-to-three year, unspoken rule in mountain towns.

You may come for the snow or hiking, biking or whatever but eventually people start to recognize you, and slowly you are in. Two years turn into ten and into many more. (I am on year 33 here in Banner Elk.) That’s what happens and that’s why a lot of people stay too. It’s a sense of inclusion; of knowing your neighbors and being in on the local secrets, of being comfortable calling all of the local weirdos and eccentrics…your closest friends.

My youngest daughter is now a local realtor and she often shares that many people hear her name and quickly ask, “Is Mike your dad?” They quickly share how long they’ve known me and add in some quick stories. I’m looking forward to the day that I am asked, “Oh, are YOU Madison’s dad?”

Click to Enlarge! …and she CAN help you find that new mountain home you’re dreaming of!

So, yea, I read the stupid, USA TODAY piece. I think it’s crap. Poorly written and waste of a read.

Leave MY mountain town alone. This place is awesome and is ACES across the board. I frankly didn’t like that the story forced me to be a realist for a few minutes and give my ski town comparison grades. I don’t like “keeping up with Joneses, and I don’t want my ski town doing it either.

In closing, and even if we kind of want to keep ALL of our ski mountain towns to ourselves, I WILL SAY, that if any of you are reading this and feeling that YOU want to be part of a special place, relocate yourself to any one of these ski towns and you can thank me later.

@Banner Elk
@Beech Mountain
@Blowing Rock
@Canaan Valley
@Hot Springs
@Maggie Valley
@Mars Hill
@Sugar Mountain

How was that for a Sunday Ramble, Joseph?

Feel free to email me: [email protected]


Also click here to Join Us on our New, SkiSoutheast Discord Channel. (4th time is the charm!)
It is a GREAT way to meet new snow loving friends and shares experiences, ask questions and more!

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