First Trax

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As promised, we want to get the "snow talk mill" in high gear and the best way to do that is to provide a hint or two and you guys will do the rest! Monday is four days away and we all know that the weather can turn on a dime, but most weather experts are saying that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week are looking v-e-r-y  i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g!

This morning we were all ready to post the information that we had and then Meteorologist Brad Panovich emailed in his Skier’s Forecast for the weekend. Being the snow crazed weather guy that he is, I figured he would be "talking up" the Monday storm that everyone ELSE has been chatting about. He only mentioned it…briefly. Dang, Brad!


I was in the country store this morning and one of the guys that is in the same chair at the same time every morning – asked me the same question that he asks me every day. He asked, "Young man, when is it going to snow again?" I often wear my gear and we struck up a conversation a few months back and now (evidently) I am his "when is it gonna snow" guy. Before I could muster up something original he added, "Man from what I heard last night we’re gonna see another ’93 style blizzard."

For those unaware, the "Storm of the Century" happened back in 1993 and it left this region buried under anywhere from 30-50" of snow. 1996 offered a couple of big snows as well, but it has been a few years since we’ve seen that kind of snowfall.

It has been a very snowy 2009 January so far as every ski area in North Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland is posting some decent numbers for seasonal snow totals.

The season snow totals for all of the ski areas within our coverage area are posted on the individual pages that we offer for each resort, but to cover a few:

Appalachian has seen 22.5" thus far

Ski Beech 42"

Sugar Mountain 40"

Winterplace 47"

All of these ski areas are pretty much "on par" to meet or slightly exceed their yearly average for seasonal snowfall. We are at about the halfway point of this ski season and Beech, for example, is right on the halfway total of 80" that they normally average in a winter.

Further north things are certainly snowier. As we have reported, some ski areas like Timberline and Canaan Valley have seen 59.4" IN JANUARY ALONE! Both of those resorts are at the 129.7" mark for this season. That is certainly ahead of pace to meet or exceed their seasonal snow total.

Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia has seen 137" thus far and that is 66% of their season snowfall and we’re only 50% into the season with all of February, March and some of April yet to enjoy!

So it has been a satisfying winter thus far as far as natural snow goes.

The question is…


All indications are that the answer is yes! Is the storm that is heading our way going to be the HUGE STORM that many are hoping for (or dreading depending on which email we read)?

Here’s the funny part…

We’re getting inundated with emails from people all over the Southeast (some from ski peeps) who are ONLY talking about what MIGHT happen on Monday or Tuesday and they are totally overlooking the snow that WILL fly tomorrow into Saturday! We’ve had so little snow over the last few years compared to normal – that I want to enjoy and appreciate every flake that falls. So I certainly don’t want to just jump right over what we’re confident about happening and skip right to a HUGE EVENT that might fizzle out like numerous approaching storms in the past!


<Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich talks up the 1-2" of snow forecasted for Beech for Friday!

Friday looks like a snowy day as snow should develop and provide us with about an inch or so of snow across the North Carolina Mountains. Maybe an inch or so will fall in the Virginia ski areas. The more snow-prone West Virginia and Maryland ski areas will probably see 4-5" or more. (Lucky dogs!) So as you can see, this is nothing to sneeze at. Snow is snow and the more of it the better. Saturday should be fun at the ski areas and the weekend forecast looks great for all of our ski areas with lots of sun, some snow and cold temps that will enable more manmade snow across more trails. Look for around-the-clock snowmaking Saturday. Sunday will mild up a bit to around normal (average highs and lows) for this time of year.

Snowshoe Looks COLD according to Brad’s Forecast for this weekend (We just noticed he spelled it "SnowShow">

THEN…Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be VERY, VERY COLD.

(I know. I know. You’re not reading this to find out about the cold. You’re here for the snow story.)

Everyone from Brad Panovich, to Matthew East, to Ray Russell and his team, to the furry groundhog up in Punxsutawney, PA (who is probably honing up his forecasting skills for next week’s shadow searching festival) ALL say that there is a big storm brewing that appears to be setting up the table for what could be a huge snow feast.

However, some weather gurus have already written us that although several of the forecasting models are supporting this event right now – the fundamental question is whether the system will take a track across the Appalachians or take a more easterly path through the Piedmont or along the Atlantic Coast. According to the gurus out there in weatherland, most think that things are indeed setting up for what could be one of the biggest snow events in recent years.

Most weather peeps are holding back slightly because they know if they build this thing up too much – if it fizzles out to a dusting or rain – then everyone will be blasting them. Of course that very thing could happen, but according to one anonymous weather gal who emailed me, "Mike, it has been a long time since there was a system that looked like this one was heading our way."

Even Ray Russell wrote in his daily post, "This definitely has the greatest potential we have seen this winter."

Sonny Gower up at Snowshoe wrote, "Hey Mike…I’m starting to get excited up here. I’ve been browsing the accuweather forums and have been looking at the different model runs and most are in agreement that some serious snow could be on the way. Some weather guys are even pointing out that this storm setup is very similar to the blizzard of 93 where there are three jetstreams phased and caused the blizzard of 93. To early to tell now but this is going to be one to watch every day!!"

Sooooooo…will we see a HUGE SNOW EVENT?

I am no weather guru at all. All I do is pass on what people far smarter than I am – tell me. With that in mind, here’s my take. Like it or not, these weather people have gotten more and more sophisticated weaponry to help them forecast the weather. Much to my disappointment, often they forecast a dusting and I find myself hoping and praying for "something bigger"…to no avail. The little dusting has more often happened just as these guys predicted.

This season has been one in which all of the weather forecasters that we know – have been nearly dead on, particularly with the 4-5 day forecasts. Having said that, I am a little leery of a forecast for that kind of massive equation to all come together perfectly to give us another storm of THIS century. However tomorrow things should begin to get a little more defined and I am certain that we will all be checking our favorite weather forecasters and you can bet that we will provide you with all the information that is made available to us.

I’d expect if things to pull together to bomb this area with snow, that all of our meteorologists will be flooding us with that news…and we will forward it on to you guys.


Be sure to check out Meteorologist Brad Panovich’s Weekend Forecast on the front of  

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

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