A Wet Day for the North Carolina Ski Areas; Snow is in the Forecast for Wednesday Night and Friday!

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There is a 90% chance of rain today and tonight across most of the North Carolina mountains, but even though the forecast states that the rain will be very light (maybe as much as a quarter of an inch) there’s a good chance that most snow lovers’ eyes will be looking northward as all of our ski area brothers and sisters in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland are receiving snow as we speak. As much as 5-9" of snow is forecasted for some areas.

For the second straight day, temperatures in the North Carolina Mountains are hovering in the 30s to 41° and that makes for some "under developed" snow around these parts! Just across the state line into Virginia we are seeing 26° at Bryce, 28° at Massanutten, and it gets as cold as 17° into Western Maryland – home to Wisp Resort where they have already picked up 4" of snow since yesterday. As much as a foot of snow may be in store for some of the ski areas into West Virginia and Maryland before the stormy weather clears out just prior to the weekend.

The North Carolina Mountains will get some snow perhaps beginning as early as Wednesday afternoon. A little rain will fall early tomorrow and that is forecasted to change over to snow with falling temperatures thoughout the day on Wednesday. Don’t look for anything significant but snow is snow, right?!?!

Snow is in the forecast again for Friday as temperatures are still expected in the 20s for highs (with some 30-32° readings). Snowmaking temps will return to the North Carolina Mountains Wednesday evening and the resorts should be able to make snow then, most of the day on Thursday and certainly Thursday night. Around the clock snowmaking will be available to all of the resorts that need it and choose to make snow as lows Friday night will dip to 14° or so. Saturday still looks sunny and cold, with highs around 35° and lows in the teens.

That sounds like the perfect ingredients for a great ski getaway to any or all of the ski areas in North Carolina.  If you have not made a trip to the ski areas this season – this would be a GREAT weekend to come up! Good weather, good snow, and plenty of slopes open!


We received a fair number of emails from yesterday from people evidently planning ski trips for the coming weekend and some of them felt slighted that none of the ski areas were making snow last night. HUH!?!?!

I repeat, HUH????

Let’s review:

Appalachian’s low temp – 35°
Cataloochee’s low temp – 40°

Ski Beech’s low temp – 35, but it was 40° at 8am.

Sugar’s low temp – 34°
Wolf Ridge’s low temp – 41°

Of course, we HAVE seen a couple of ski areas make snow at 34°, but the humidity, wet bulb and all of the weather thingies have to be in perfect alignment for that to happen! We’ve witnessed Sugar Mountain making snow at 35° more than a few times and we’ve received reports from some of our volunteer reporters that ski resorts were running "humidifiers" and not snowmaking equipment on some of those days 😉

One emailer (who will remain last-nameless) named Janeen wrote, "I am supposed to be at Beech this weekend with my church and I’ve read about their problems with snowmaking this season. I noticed they are not making snow tonight and wandered why not. Don’t they care enough to make snow so we’ll have more stuff open this weekend?"


Janeen, by the use of the word "supposed" I am guessing it is fate that will have you with us this weekend. You also alluded to "wander" which makes me think that you are aimlessly wandering around because you’re SUPPOSED to be here and you are worried about Beech "having more STUFF open".

Beech has plenty open as the View Haus Restaurant is open and serving some of the best homemade chili I’ve ever eaten! The Beech Tree Restaurant and Bar is open and they have some nice food and all the adult beverages that you might need to deal with those kiddies you’re SUPPOSED to be with. The Beech Sports Shop will be open as well.

I couldn’t help myself! I’m frustrated because we’re not located 150 miles north and we’re missing out on the snow that this "split flow" weather pattern is dumping northward!

Okay, Janeen – I’m okay now. Sweetheart (you don’t mind me calling you sweetheart do you?). Anyway – that white stuff that you see on the slopes and trails at Ski Beech and ALL of our ski areas IS REAL. It isn’t "fake snow". It is MANMADE SNOW. Man can’t make snow at any higher temperature than God can. In fact, I’ve seen God make snow at 41° at ground level. The other day I was taking care of my horses over at the foot of Beech (that place that snow goes to die) and it was snowing pretty decent. I looked at my car thermometer and it was 41°. Weird, but true. In fact, I took some kids up on a ridge on Sunday and we played in about 4" of snow and had a snowball fight from snow that was left over from last week’s storm.

Oh, Janeen – I forgot you were still here! Anyway – when MAN makes snow, we have to have temperatures that are less than 34° or so. Most of the time, snowmaking equipment will prefer it to be in the upper 20s or below.  They REALLY like zero degree temps!

That white stuff is not foam, soap, artificial or anything other than water and air that has been manipulated by the snowmaking mechanism to fire into the air…but it doesn’t come out as snow. It comes out as very tiny particles of water. It is the cold air that these particles float through that makes it into snow.

(For those bound to email me – yes ski areas can and do mix in some snowmax, etc as a "nucleator" but I don’t want to confuse Janeen.)

Janeen? Janeen, you still there? Hmmmm, I guess she wondered (I meant WANDERED) off somewhere!


You guys seem to love our "legend base reporting" technique wherein all of the ski areas in the state are looking good with ratings mostly in the 9 and 10 range (as good as it gets). However, some of you seem to be insecure and need to hear some numbers (even though they are not as accurate as they need to be) that are posted around the region.

For you insecure snow babes and babies, here’s what the resorts are reporting:

Appalachian – 82-108"
Cataloochee – 42-90"
Ski Beech – 32-62"
Sugar Mountain – 43-82"
Wolf Ridge – 46-66"

By the way, we are not saying that ski areas don’t have the minimums and maximums bases that they are reporting. They probably have those numbers and more…somewhere on the hill. However, none of them have those numbes as AVERAGES across all of their slopes and trails.

We have beaten this poor horse to death, but if we’re going to report these numbers AND include comments such as "such and such resort has a couple of slopes with thin coverage and a few bare spots" – we feel compelled to explain further because you guys email us about it.

To explain it better – you can’t actually HAVE an average base of 30-60" and list 14 trails open – AND have thin coverage and bare spots in the middle of some trails.

Where’s Janeen? I need Janeen back in here. Now I’m confused!

That is why we have suggested a SINGLE NUMBER BASE REPORTING NUMBER. When resorts report an average base of 50" across all 14, 30 or 59 trails – then they COULD still have a thin area or two – because the math would still make sense.

Aw, man – now tons of you guys are all confused!

Anyway, we love the fact that a few ski areas have already taken our suggestion and have begun reporting a single number base average.

Expect Wet and Loose Granular conditions at all ski areas today. Depending on where you are skiing today, you might see a thin spot or two but overall surfaces are in great shape across the state, with most of the ski areas with a ton of base, no thin areas whatsoever and very good conditions to weather the light rain expected.  With cold and snow on the way – look for GREAT conditions for this weekend.

Wolf Ridge is STILL reporting 8" of snow in the last 84 hours on the front of their site. Ummmm, no.

Until Next time…

Be sure to visit www.SkiSoutheast.com  for more news from the rest of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas!

Send your snow photos, videos, comments or emails to: [email protected]

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