Breaking Down the Southeast by States to Forecast Ski Conditions and Weather as Cold and Snow Hits late in the Weekend!

First Trax

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Being an old marketing and advertising guy, I HAVE to lead off this morning’s update with the fact that conditions into this weekend will be looking much improved as temps should allow for snowmaking at some areas as early as Friday night and Saturday morning. Resorts will certainly make snow Saturday night as temps fall into the low to mid 20s. There is STILL SNOW in the forecast for Sunday and Monday – and possibly even Tuesday. So if you have a ski trip planned from Saturday on…you’ll have a nice getaway!


The important MLK holiday weekend falls on January 18-21 this season. That 4-day weekend is important to ski areas across the region because it is traditionally a huge one in terms of skier visits, etc. With the weather pattern that begins on Saturday, resorts should be in THE BEST shape of the entire season thus far and with more terrain open that at any point! That IS great news for all concerned.

Having said that…we are currently Suffering through two more days…of borderline temps and rain and THEN WINTER WEATHER RETURNS!

The TIMING of the return of winter weather varies a bit over the next couple of days so we’re going to do things a little different this morning. We’re going to segregate the Southeast and Mid Atlantic in about the same way that "WINTER" has segregated them. Check it out…

West Virginia and Maryland…

Look for light showers today and heavier rain tonight and early Friday across McHenry, Maryland (home to Wisp Resort). SNOW enters the forecast Friday night and into Saturday night through Tuesday. Cold temps invade Garrett County Saturday night and snowmaking will be nearly around the clock for some time.

Snowshoe will see colder temps a bit quicker than the rest of the resorts as lows around 23° will hit their 4848′ elevations Friday night, giving them a head start on snow making. Natural snow should really pick up at Snowshoe, Timberline and Canaan Valley on Sunday night through Tuesday night.

Accummulations look to be light at this time (maybe 2-4" or so) and the even bigger news is extended cold, winter weather through perhaps the end of the month.


Wisp is offering 25 trails today, serviced by 8 lifts. Dodge the rain and go have some fun!

Snowmaking occured overnight at SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN as Ed Galford and his team cranked up their mechanism as temps dropped to 28°.

Laura Parquette writes, "We continue to have 46 trails open, that’s more than double the open terrain of any resort south of Pennsylvania. Every green trail on the mountain is open, there are plenty of blues to explore and the addition last week of Cupp Run and Camp 99 greatly enhanced the expert skier experience."

None of the rest of the West Virginia ski resorts reported being able to make snow, so were guessing that Winterplace, Timberline and Canaan were all just out of range to accommodate snowmaking.


Wintergreen Resort WAS able to make snow. Sara Lovejoy wrote, "We started making snow at around 5am and expect to make snow again Late Friday night. Eagles Swoop, the Lower Cross Trail, and Dobie are open. For those guests that want to tube, The Plunge will be open today from 2-9pm. Tubing tickets are on sale now over the web and in person.

When Snowmaking weather returns this weekend we will focus a lot of our effort on improving the slopes that are currently open but will also work hard to open more terrain. Winter weather is forecasted to return this weekend and stay around through the end of the month. This should allow us to get more trails open for the MLK holiday."

The Virginia resorts are looking at substantial rain this afternoon and evening; some thunderstorms on Friday – then clearing mid day. There’s a 40% chance of snow on Sunday evening though snowmaking temps probably won’t hit most of the Virginia ski areas until as late as Monday night. There are some borderline chances at making snow Saturday and Sunday night around Wintergreen, Massanutten and Bryce.


Ober has had diffulties all season in finding nights that they could make snow. It is amazing that they are open at all with the 4 trails that they have. The bad news for my good friend and marketing gal, Kathy Doyle and fans of Ober Gatlinburg is that there bad fortune regarding the weather is probably going to continue as the cold and snow expected for most of the rest of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic…may not materialize for the Smoky Mountain resort.

It will be Monday or Tuesday night before we’re seeing temps cold enough for them to make snow at 25°. The snow forecasted for most of the area Sunday through Tuesday looks like rain there.


I read a lot of resources each morning in preparing for what I want to report to you guys. Among the weather resources are certainly our "house meteorologists" Brad Panovich and Matthew East who are loaned to us by their Charlotte TV stations. I also get some great input from Mike Stinneford of Washington DC, who just wrote me again yesterday, and I also spend some time on NOAA’s website and slide over to Ray Russell’s Boone Weather website. With that in mind I had to admire Ray’s comments this morning when he wrote, "Today we’re headed toward the best rain event of the New Year. Of course, we need all the precip we can get; so, no complaining is allowed."

U-N-L-E-S-S you want to ride snow snow!

Ray says that our area will see rain on and off on Thursday and then heavy rain this evening (up to an inch).

Friday should be beautiful – weather-wise – but you can bet that the ski areas will take another blow to their conditions. Simply put, Appalachian will hold up and Sugar will be decent…but the rest will suffer a bit more.

Temperatures last night were teasingly close to snowmaking at some spots like Sugar Mountain which saw a low temp of 33°. Appalachian reported a low of 35°. Most of the other reporting areas showed lows in the 40° range.

RIGHT NOW…conditions look nice at Appalachian; pretty good at Sugar Mountain, Cataloochee and Wolf Ridge; decent at Hawksnest and pretty rough at Sapphire Valley and Ski Beech.

The current mild spell and rains headed in today and tonight are playing havoc with conditions and even some plans are being rescheduled.

Wolf Ridge’s Justin Blythe wrote, "URGENT RELEASE- Due to the unseasonably warm weather. We have decided to postpone the Big Air competition set for this Saturday, 01-12-08. It is important to provide a quality safe event for competitors. Conditions permitting, our next event is scheduled for January 26th. Hope for cold… Think Snow!"

While on the subject of Wolf Ridge, we have received a bunch of emails in the last few days about Wolf Ridge and this is as good a time as any to address those.

One regular Wolf visitor wrote, "Mike, You seem to be bragging about wolf in your daily report today but something else that should noted is the location of their 6 open slopes. I don’t really want to bad mouth Wolf but none of the slope reports (their site and skinc) tell folks that the 6 open slopes cannot be accessed from one location. You only have access to three slopes on the old side and 3 slopes if you drive to the upper lodge. It’s about a 15-20 minute drive between the old side and the new side. For someone not aware of that or if you came with a group, this can be frustrating. Wolf will not allow you to walk between the two areas because there are no ski patrol there. Hopefully they will get some snow on the connecting slopes soon but until then, it should be noted there is a drive between accessing all 6 slopes."

Duly noted…

We spoke with Wolf this morning and you have to appreciate their attitude as they lady that we spoke with said in a straightforward manner, "This just has not been skiing weather, that’s for sure."

Without question, this simply comes under the heading of "you have to play the cards you’re dealt" and the weather patterns thus far have simply made all resorts have to fight the fight. In Wolf’s case, I would bet that they could not have foreseen a scenario with the new trail structure that would make things such that you’d have to ski three trails and then have to drive to another side of the mountain to hit the other three. Our guess is that they will probably have to address that for future seasons or better detail their ski reports to advise guests of such.

To that end, WE have detailed that fact on our slope conditions report, and we appreciate our readers keeping us informed.


One of our more conspriracy-minded readers wrote, "I really wonder why you have not said one word about this!! Is this not NC Skiing News??? Are you paid to keep quiet?? Seems to me that would be better reading these days than another useless comment about the local weathermen. Wolf does’nt even bother to tell their customers you have two different sides open. I’ll lay money down right now that says they never open from the top this month, or maybe this year. Come on and show some &^$% and report about it instead of the continued cover-up. I dare ya!!!"

Oh boy I COULD have SO much fun with this guy! I had to read four sentences into the email before I even realized what the heck he was asking or reporting and then I had to endure yet another email alluding to the fact that I or our ski sites were part of some, silly coverup.

So young man…there’s your post. (See the statement above it which alludes to the issue as well.) There’s no cover up and Wolf nor anyone else is performing some purposeful misinformation.

…again, we all have to play the cards we’re dealt.

SNOWMOBILES, SNOWMOBILES…anyone in NC Got Snowmobiles?

Here we are, smack dab in the midst of what may be the craziest winter season thus far and we have people writing to us asking about snowmobiling in North Carolina.

Again, I will "play nice" and not say anything. I guess it would be easy to assume that since North Carolina has ski resorts, that we might have snowmobiling. Perhaps in the NEXT millenium when we’re averging 240" of snow per season and suffering through "global cooling" antagonists, we’ll have some snowmobiling programs operating at the North Carolina resorts.

For NOW though…the closest snowmobiling is in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Visit for that content.


Due to the weather, Cataloochee was forced to drop two of their open trails and are now open with five for day and night skiing as well as their tubing hill.

Hawksnest – Justin writes, "Free lesson Thursday, get a free beginner lesson when you rent equipment at Hawksnest. On Thursday, Jan 9th slopes will open at 9am for skiing and boarding until 10pm. Snow tubing will be open at 11am until 9pm. Last tubing session is 7pm to 8:45pm. Ladies Day is Wednesday, ladies receive a free lift ticket. Free lesson Thursday, rent your equipment with Hawksnest and receive a free beginner lesson. As snowmaking allows we will add more terrain for you."

Sapphire Valley is still reporting "packed powder" conditions on the NC Ski Association’s website, and they have not updated their own website since Monday morning so we’re advising you guys to call ahead for availability. These guys have had it tough only being able to make snow a few days the entire season, so they are certainly looking forward to the weekend’s cold temps.

Ski Beech – We received a lot of emails on Tuesday and Wednesday when their main webcam was not operating. Seems a lot of you guys assumed that they had it turned off so that they didn’t have to show how bad it looks out there. Since we are aware of the technical aspects of all of the live cams, we can tell you that the camera or the internet connectivity was the culprit – not administration or the marketing department. Where were you guys a couple of weeks ago when Beech was showing what might have been the worst conditions in years…live on the internet for all to see.

Anyway…the camera is running again this morning and is certainly showing some rough conditions (but skiable). Ski Beech was forced to close off Upper Shawneehaw and is now down to three open slopes – Lower Shawneehaw, Powder Bowl and Freestyle.

One of our more marketing-savvy regular readers had an idea that would put a positive spin on these roller coaster conditions at some of the resorts. Jenny Thompson of Hampton, Georgia wrote, "I think it would cool as heck if when the conditions are really bad and showing a lot of slush and mud, if one of the resorts would host a "mud bowl football game". I know I’d drive up to play!

(Sounds like MY kind of gal!)

Like we wrote yesterday, the truth is that we receive emails from visitors all the time who tell us what a great time they had at "xyz resort" even when conditions were the pits.

That’s it for today. Stay out of the rain, and wait until Friday night’s colder temps. (…and shut down your conspiracy theories…we’re ALL just playing the cards we’re dealt.)


Until Next Time…Send your comments, photos and videos to: [email protected]  

For resort news, photos and videos from ALL of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas, visit  

See You On The Slopes!

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