…and so it begins…SNOWMAKING THAT IS!

First Trax

Story by Mike Doble

Snowshoe Mountain doesn’t have their opening day scheduled until Wednesday, November 23rd (just in time for Turkey Day skiing and snowboarding), however they had mention via a press release last week that they had planned on beginning to make snow last night. That didn’t happen as far as we can tell, but it should happen tonight as lows are expected to drop dramatically later Friday evening to 25° or so! It also appears that God plans on supporting the snowmaking cause by kicking in 5 to 9 inches of natural snow.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T CATCH THAT – that’s possibly ANOTHER 9" of snow. If that happens that will make for 18" of snowfall in OCTOBER up there!

I just checked the calendar. Yep, it’s just October 28th!


I received an email late on Thursday from someone asking if I’d heard that Sugar was planning on making snow and opening this weekend. That came a couple of hours after Lisa Clough, one of our snow loving staffers, walked into my office and asked me if I’d heard the same thing.

My reaction was, "That isn’t happening. Not a chance."

My reaction had more to do with the fact that I’m just not ready for a resort to open just yet – than any real belief that it couldn’t happen. After giving myself a moment to allow it to sink in I thought, "Good grief, it could happen."

Of course all I’d REALLY have to do to almost guarantee it to happen would be to say, "NO WAY SUGAR MOUNTAIN CAN MAKE ENOUGH SNOW AND OPEN THIS WEEKEND!" Sugar’s talented peeps can crank out some snow in nearly no time, but they’d almost be hell bent on making it happen if it got out that I guaranteed it couldn’t happen. Ditto that for Cataloochee.


Because BOTH resorts share an almost annual, friendly "battle" to see who gets open first. Cataloochee opened up ON THIS DAY (October 28th) of 2008. So a precedent has been set. I could have sworn that Sugar Mountain opened that same day, but according to Sugar’s website they didn’t open in 2008 until the 17th of November. In fact, according to the same page, Sugar’s earliest opening date ever was on November 5th, 1976.

So while no ski area will be able to BEAT the October 28th opening this season, it IS possible that one or more WILL be able to make enough snow to open this weekend. It’s kind of doubtful and I’m not going as far as to say either that it WILL HAPPEN or that it COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAPPEN. I’m merely reporting that there is some cold and light snow in the forecast.

The low tonight across Sugar Mountain is forecasted to be around 29°. I’ve seen Gunther’s peeps make snow at 35°. The wet bulb and everyone’s tongue has to be held just so, but it could happen. A little "ambience snow" is forecasted overnight at Sugar and Beech Mountain. Dr. Ray Russell of Ray’s Weather is forecasting 1-3" of accumulation tonight and AM Saturday. (That should make for a crazy soccer day as my soccer girls have a 11am Saturday match in Valle Crucis. Last Saturday we played at 27° with the ground frosted white enough that you couldn’t see the field lines until later in the match.)

According to the forecast, we should see a low of 27° Saturday night. (It will be a COLD Ghost Train night for myself and my crew at Tweetsie and for my USC Gamecocks who take on Tennessee Saturday night in Knoxville!) Sunday night’s lows should fall to around 29°. Although the highs each day over the weekend are meant to be in the low to mid 40s, we COULD see some snowmaking.

So don’t be surprised if Sugar doesn’t crank ’em up.


I’m due to be speaking later today with Chris Bates and Tammy Brown at Cataloochee and I’ll get their take on it, but from what I’m seeing on the weather forecasts, I don’t things will support any snowmaking at Cataloochee this weekend. Lows tonight should only get to around 35°. The low Saturday night should dip to 28°, but then Sunday should get to the mid to upper 50s and stay out of snowmaking range for a few days just yet.

However it should be noted that Cataloochee made 8-12" of snow THREE YEARS AGO yesterday and opened on this day 1095 days ago!


Although Opening Day is not scheduled at Snowshoe until Wednesday, November 23rd, they will probably begin blasting the slopes later today or tonight. Their forecast looks favorable to make snow AROUND THE CLOCK with highs Saturday only around 32°. In fact it should not get out of the 30s from NOW until sometime later on Sunday. So we should see some snowmaking videos popping up!

We’ll share those and that news as soon as we get word. With all the LIVE cameras we have pointing at Sugar and Beech, we should be able to pass the word almost as they push the first flakes out!


Something’s in the water, but even before we’ve been able to kick into "ski mode" around the office we have heard from MOST of the ski areas of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic and have marketing plans in place that will insure a more interactive and promotional participation of more ski areas than ever before. New STREAMING, HD, TV-style cams are going in up at Timberline, Bryce, and Homestead. We’ve already cranked a new on up at Massanutten. That bad boy is like watching television. The fall colors are looking pretty up there and we’ve been watching some construction crews up there as well as some chairlift riders enjoying the autumn leaves. Can’t wait to see some snow falling on that cam!

We already have cams in place at many of the other areas so expect some crazy cool imagery this season. Check out the Massanutten cam at: http://www.highcountrywebcams.com/webcameras_massanutten.htm  

Those are going to be AWESOME this season. Road conditions viewing will be better than ever before.

We’re still a few days away from going fully into ski mode here at the SkiSoutheast.com offices but once we do it should be fun. Adam Goudelock, one of our staffers was walking around the office yesterday with new Rossi boots. Kenny Griffin and Adam had also hit up the tent sales at App, Alpine and Ski Country within that last week. I hear that I have a Go Pro cam in my birthday future next week. That’s coming from Ski Country.

Several of the crew were already talking Gold Passes and Beech, Sugar and App passes. So these guys are getting me excited.


I’m hearing some positive talk coming from numerous of our lodging clients. Seems that people are tired of sitting around waiting for the economy to get better and they’re making reservations already for the upcoming season! If you’re thinking of heading up for THANKSGIVING weekend, you might want to get your reservations in order this week. That weekend is traditionally opening weekend around here for several ski areas. Many families come up, choose and cut their Christmas tree, take in some hay rides and do a little skiing and snowboarding.

If you’ve not done that before – you ought to give it a try. It’s a fun bit of tradition that brings a smile to every snow lover’s face. It is also a great way to kick off the Holiday season.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your day – and weekend – and stay tuned to the cameras and you might see some snow falling! Snowshoe, Canaan Valley and Timberline will get the bulk of this snowfall, and we’ll get you some photos as we receive them!

Email me your comments, photos, etc to: [email protected]

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