COLD AIR IS COMING! Until Then Expect a Few Bare Spots Today!

First Trax

A cold front is approaching that will bring huge sighs of relief to both ski area managers and visitors to the resorts who are all hopinig for improving conditions for the bulk of the Holiday ski getaway.

Temperatures are expected to turn colder tonight and most ski rersorts in the entire region will be able to begin making much needed snow tonight. There will be a few pockets of areas that will not be able to make snow tonight but they will be able to begin doing so Monday night and then every night through the long range forecasting period. Simply put, resorts will make it through today with the conditions that they have and then from either Sunday night forward or Monday night forward – they will begin adding base and covering up the thin areas of coverage that every resort in the region has – with the possible exception of Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina and maybe Bryce Resort in Virginia.

There is no question that Appalachian has an advantage in keeping near perfect conditions due to their compact size, but if you’ve ever been at App when they are making snow, that is the ONE resort that you can not escape the shower of snow when they are going full force. The entire ski area gets a manmade blizzard during snowmaking ops.

Even though all of our ski areas could use some around-the-clock snowmaking, the nighttime snowmaking temps will mean that skiers and snowboarders can enjoy sunny days of no snowmaking and daily, improving conditions – and then the ski resorts can make tons of focused snow at night.

So the news of the WEEK is the thankful return of COLD AIR and snowmaking to produce daily improving conditions. For those of you who have not witnessed the kind of transformation that happens nearly overnight when our region’s snowmakers are in action – you simply won’t believe how great things will get and how fast it happens. By Tuesday conditions will be as different as night and day.

The news of the DAY will be the WINDS. We will see some consistent 10-20 mph winds around Beech Mountain with gusts to 40 mph. Ski areas further north will be looking at colder air tonight with lows crashing down to 20° but they will also be looking at tougher winds today as that cold air funnels into the region. Expect winds in the 20-30 mph ranhe with gusts to 55 mph.

There’s also a few more raindrops in today’s forecast but not the heavy variety…and then the rest of the week will be sunny for ski areas in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The West Virginia and Maryland ski resorts could see some SNOW in their week with chances Tuesday night and Wednesday…and then again Thursday night, Friday and Saturday.

All in all it appears we’ve weathered this bad spell and we’ll now see some Wintry weather for a while.

Bare Spots. If Ya Got Em, Report Em.

One quick tour around the webcams tells us it’s foggy at Appalachian, wet looking at Ski Beech, drier to the north. Trip reporters are also telling us that there are areas of thin coverage at all of the resorts with the exception of Appalachian Ski Mountain. We’ve had a few emailers "pointing fingers" at some resorts for NOT reporting them, but our "hats are off" for Ski Beech and Sugar Mountain listing "thin coverage" in their reports. They’ve all got them except App.

The resorts are not listing "bare spots" but that’s because you don’t SKI on those anyway. Technically all ski areas have bare spots all year long. MOST of the time those bare spots are only in the woods where we are not supposed to be riding! Right now though – there ARE some bare spots in the middle of trails, but those should be clearly marked so we’ll avoid them.

Here’s the run down for today:

Wisp Resort – 49° – 23 of 35 trails open. They have some thin coverage areas. They do a nice little perk for season pass holders as the Slopes open today from 9am to 9pm with First Track’s at 7:30am for Season Pass Holders and Multi Day Ticket Holders. They offer one of the terrain parks, the mountain coaster and tubing today as well. Wisp is in really GREAT shape with fewer thin areas than most that we’re getting reports from elsewhere. Check their FIFTEEN LIVE CAMERAS for a tour of the resort from numerous angles and you’ll see remarkable conditions in the face of the recent weather.

Snowshoe Mountain – 45° low – 49 of 60 slopes open with some thin coverage and bare spots. They have tubing and snowmobiling open as well. Snowshoe is looking at temps that will dive down close to 20° tonight and they will begin blanketing the slopes with some needed TLC. There was a lot of REALLY nice terrain open yesterday, but they do have a fair bit of thin coverage on numerous trails and some bare areas here and there. We were really impressed with how good the conditions were on Saturday with MANY trails in great shape with no thin coverage from top to bottom. That is impressive when you consider that Snowshoe offers 244 acres of terrain when fully open. Cupp Run was the best of the slopes open that we skied yesterday although skiing down through Skip Jack and the Spruce Glades terrain park areas was near perfect as well. IMPRESSIVE!

Winterplace Resort – 49° low – 18 of 28 slopes open. They have some thin coverage areas. The forecast is for some sun & some clouds with the chance for some off & on showers.

Timberline Resort – 49° low – 20 of 37 slopes open with 8 open for night skiing. They have some thin coverage areas. Jessica Scowcroft wanted us to tell you about Timberline’s New Years Eve party. Make reservations now. Also Timberline offers daily happy hour specials from 4pm-7pm with "buy one and get one half off – appetizer specials:.

Canaan Valley – 59° low – 10 of 39 trails open with some thin areas. David Vance also reminded us that, "WE ALSO HAVE AN ICE SKATING RINK LOCATED BEHIND OUR MAIN LODGE IN AN OVERHEAD PAVILION."


We’ll give a lead story to The Homestead as they are now updating us daily thanks to John Corriveau. John is reporting "wet hard packed" conditions with 8-24" of base and. They didn’t share how many trails are open but mentioned 2 lanes of tubing open and ice skating as well. They are open til 5pm today.

Bryce Resort is reporting 7 of 8 slopes open and tubing today as well. Bryce is showing good snow coverage today.

Massanutten Resort – 50° low – 8 of 14 trails open and tubing til 10pm.

Wintergreen Resort – 50° low – 9 of 26 trails open plus tubing. Anne Marie Jones wrote, "Freestyle Rail Jam Today, come and compete or watch the action! Features built for this event include: Elevated pipe-mailbox style, giant rainbow, c box, 10’falt wide rail, mini battleship, ¼ pipe with oversize jib cope-ing, baby flat rails, and more. Snowmaking weather returns Monday. Bouncing back quickly after a thaw is something we do very well. Thanks to fully automated snowmaking, we can cover our trails with a fresh layer of dry snow overnight. This is something our loyal customers know they can count on and often rave about."

Ober Gatlinburg – 59° low – 4 of 8 slopes open and self reporting some thin coverage and some bare spots.

Appalachian – 49° low – 8 of 10 trails open. No Bare Spots or Thin Coverage Areas. Ice Skating Open as well as both terrain parks.

Cataloochee – 49° low – 5 of 14 trails open. They DO have bare spots and areas of thin coverage. They have re-closed three trails from the 8 that were open on Saturday. They offer tubing today as well.

Sapphire Valley has filed no reports since December 24th on their website or on any other resource. CALL AHEAD for opening and conditions. We’ll go ahead and say since they are the southernmost ski area in North Carolina that they DO have bare spots and thin coverage.

Ski Beech – 47° low – 4 of 15 trails open. They are self reporting thin coverage areas and bare spots. They are open from Lower Shawneehaw down. Ice Skating opens at noon.

Sugar Mountain – 46° low – 11 of 20 trails open as well as ice skating and tubing park! The are self reporting thin coverage and some bare spots.

Wolf Ridge – 55° low – 6 of 20 trails open as of yesterday. They DO have some thin areas and bare spots.

For today we’ll dodge a few rain drops here and there, stay low into the wind and steer clear of the thin and bare areas. Check the webcams and slope reports and be happy that COLD AIR IS COMING!!!

Congrats to Cataloochee on the new, improved, much anticipated webcam image!


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