As I sat down to begin typing up this February 25th, 2017 update…it began to rain here at my “SkiSoutheast command post” in beautiful – but rainy (thunderstormy) – Sleepy Hollow, Banner Elk, North Carolina. I was awake but still groggy when I heard a huge round of THUNDER. That is NEVER good to hear in February.
So we’ll see some rain today and then temps will turn colder and allow for snowmaking (thank God) later today as we are seeing a forecast of 19° for a low tonight at Snowshoe, Canaan and Timberline. Beech Mountain is forecasted to drop to 14° tonight!
On Friday’s Firstrax report, Kenny Griffin talked about snowmaking temperatures returning tonight…Brad Panovich was talking about “The Blow Torch” being back. Thankfully as you’ll see below – we’re looking at a good forecast for late next week.
As I viewed the webcams this morning I witnessed several of the groomers out pushing snow around – fighting the fight to keep trails open. There’s thin coverage and bare areas at EVERY ski resort in the region this morning, whether it’s being reported by the resorts or not. It is almost an assumptive bit of reporting on their part as if they’re all saying, “We have snow on the ground, but you guys DO KNOW that it’s been 70° since mid January, right?”
I was looking at the Wisp Resort camera this morning and as it panned around to the Sunset and Easy Street trails on the right side (as you’re facing the mountain) it was painful to see that there’s a “highway” of a slope perhaps three cars wide coming down the hill. They are reporting “Spring Conditions” and that is the definer really for all of the ski areas.
Snowshoe is hosting their always popular WV Open this weekend and those activities begin at Noon in Mountaineer Park. Things look wet and stormy there as well this morning. However as Snowshoe is accurately reporting, the temperatures are going to drop later in the day and change over to snow showers in the evening. (Temps are supposed to fall throughout the day as echoed by Lenora Testerman at Canaan Valley Resort as well.)
As I was looking around this morning, one word kept coming to mind – ouch. Man it’s been a strange, long, challenging winter for all of the ski areas. It is February 25th and typically we are all enjoying lots of deep base depths at all of the mountains and usually you’d find all of the slopes open everywhere. Instead we are fighting (and have been for some time) to keep slopes open period.
As I’ll report more in depth later in this post – we’ve already lost three ski areas to closure and Omni Homestead will call it quits Sunday (tomorrow).
I should report – although most people won’t get the message – that there are some DEEP piles of snow at most of the ski areas. I was looking at the base of Snowshoe and the Ballhooter lift and there’s probably five-to-six feet of snow there at the bottom. The snow is deeper than that at the base of Canaan Valley Resort where they keep building and rebuilding the old-man-winter mound of snow.
Snowshoe Mountain continues to boast 54 of 57 trails open for play. That bodes well for those of us who plan to invade Snowshoe next weekend for our SkiSoutheast / Snowshoe Summit. That event is March 3,4,5th and with snowmaking happening tonight and maybe a chance for around-the-clock snowmaking this weekend, things will only get better. We’re also looking at a forecast of snow Thursday and Friday and some more seasonally cold temperatures for next weekend up there, so our annual, SkiSoutheast Summit is looking actually pretty awesome for some cooperative weather and conditions.
If you have not booked your room for next weekend, you should do so and join us. We’re going to give away two FREE Season Passes, a ton of new SkiSoutheast shirts, hats, boggans/beanies (three different styles) and we also have new sticker designs that we will give away.
We picked up another four attendees this morning and we are now at (62) fun-loving, snow-loving souls who are planning on joining us for the weekend. Now that the weather is looking more cooperative, we’ll probably gain more. If you’re already booked and reading this – we WILL be emailing everyone who is coming to Snowshoe with our plans for meetups and giveaways.
Meteorologist Brad Panovich will be with us, Joe Stevens of Snow News is Good News will be there. (Joe is also the official spokesperson for the WV Ski Areas.) Our own Kenny Griffin and David McCue will be there as well as yours truly and I think we’ll have Sean Cassell and/or David Dekema and other Snowshoe brass to join us throughout the weekend. So if you’re already booked and planning to come to Snowshoe – and reading this – we will be emailing all of you about where to be and when, etc. If you are NOT already booked – Good Lord what is wrong with you? There WILL be snow; there WILL be a ton of slopes open and there WILL be fun to be enjoyed with great, like-minded peeps. Come join us.
Brad Panovich Is Talking a Good Forecast for the Summit and all resorts
If you watched the video above, you’ll note that Brad is excited about hanging out with us for the Summit. Hope you can join us too!
FREE SNOWSHOE SEASON PASS NEWS…
I have received a few emails from people asking WHEN we will announce the winners. WE HAVE PICKED THE WINNERS (as Kenny Griffin posted on Friday). We’ll announce the winners and present them with their season passes on Saturday morning (next Saturday) while doing a live broadcast at 8:30am in the Village. The winner HAS TO BE PRESENT in order to accept the pass, confirming that the reservations were kept. If the winner doesn’t show up, we’ll give it to somebody else who is there. Basically, if you signed up and are attending, make sure you are in the Village at 8:30am! We’ll be sending out emails in the next week to remind you all who have signed up and are attending.
A LOOK AROUND THE REGION THIS MORNING
Winterplace Resort looks pretty nice via the cams. They have an 18-42″ base.
Timberline looks nice as well, despite reporting some thin coverage on some trails. They reported a 10″ drop in base but are still at 8-30″.
Wintergreen Resort is no longer open for night skiing the rest of the way.
Bryce Resort has a good base of 30-42″.
Appalachian Ski Mountain looks nice with only SOME thin coverage on the terrain park areas. They are reporting a base of 29-42″. I remember some seasons when I complained about App reporting base depths of 120″. Oh for those day!
Sugar Mountain Resort looks BETTER than I thought they would after this last week of mild temps. They ARE reporting thin coverage – but so are all the resorts – AND Sugar’s base cam is showing decent snow. They have a base of 10-40″.
Beech Mountain’s base cam is also showing pretty nice conditions. I’m impressed.
Cataloochee Ski Area – that camera that they have at the base it just terrible, but it is showing good, side-to-side coverage. They are down to a 10-16″ base. At the end of this report we are speculating at some resorts and whether or not they will make snow tonight. Normally Cat would be among the most aggressive resorts and make snow at any opportunity. However it has been SUCH a challenging season for the Maggie Valley ski area – we’ll see if they take advantage of snowmaking tonight. Nobody could blame them if they packed it in.
Of course the last time I said that a week or so ago about Ober Gatlinburg I received some complaints…but then they closed right afterwards. If I had to BET, I would bet that Cataloochee makes snow, but we’ll keep an eye on things this evening.
WITH THE RETURN OF COLD TEMPS, WILL ALL SKI RESORTS MAKE SNOW?
That is a question that is USUALLY reserved for MUCH later in the season. “Later” being something like mid-March. By then the base depths at all ski areas are usually measured in feet. When we get to that point on the calendar – ski areas will tend not to make snow and simply manage what they have. As Joe Stevens says, “Ski resorts are farmers of snow. They make snow at every opportunity early and throughout the season and then they farm, plow and cultivate it later in the year.”
With things being so “DOWN” this season, will every resort choose to make snow tonight when the temps dive down and allow it?
THAT is the question of today. As I am looking at the forecast for the week ahead, we’re seeing cold enough temps to make snow tonight across most of the resort mountaintops, but then we’re seeing a 90% chance of thunderstorms and significant rain mid-week with highs in the low to mid 60s even up in West Virginia.
As we’ve already reported, things “cold up” again as we head into next Friday with some chances of SNOW (Glorious SNOW), you know that white stuff that USUALLY falls with great frequency this time of year.
I would think that we will see the snowguns crank up at all of the major players (ski resorts) tonight and as each night of cold temps hit, because we ARE just into late FEBRUARY. Most of the resorts HAVE to be holding out some hope that March will be different. We HAVE seen some of the best snows in March. Meteorologist Brad Panovich has shared that he thinks March will be a roller coaster with swings of more consistent cold and some snow…and less in the way of prolonged thaws like we’ve had since mid January.
However, we are already aware of a few ski areas that won’t be making anymore snow. Those include Omni Homestead – which has already announced that TOMORROW (Sunday) will be their last day of offering snowboarding and skiing at the popular Virginia resort for the season. In case you missed it, Ober Gatlinburg is ALREADY CLOSED for skiing and snowboarding. They ARE still offering snow tubing, ice skating and other on-mountain activities though. Sapphire Valley Resort is CLOSED for the season as well.
That is the earliest that I think I’ve ever seen THREE of our ski areas closed for the season.
I guess we’ll see later this evening which resorts crank up the snowmaking equipment. Those that DON’T will be sending up a “flare” that they are not planning on staying open long into March.
Resorts that have already tipped their hat…
Massanutten Resort posted, “Snow making temperatures are forecasted for tonight and we will be making snow as temps allow.”
They also wrote, “Due to unseasonably warm temperatures, the ski slopes will begin an abbreviated schedule Sunday, February 26. Operation is weather dependent and could vary day to day. Please call ahead to check conditions and availability.”
That IS the kind of season it has been.
Sugar Mountain Resort WILL be among those making snow. They posted, “The slopes have some thin areas and bare spots. Snowmaking will resume as soon as temperatures allow.”
Wolf Ridge Resort wrote, “SNOW GUNS ARE OFF for the weekend.”
Does that mean they will operate tonight? We’ll see. Wolf tends to close mid March, so they may run the table with what they have. No word yet.
Appalachian Ski Mountain WILL make snow. They have already done the best impression of Nostradamus and predicted their closing date as March 26th. They will need more snow…so expect snowmaking this evening.
We will report from the others when we hear that news.
That’s it for me today. Email me as you like at [email protected]