Cold, Snow? It’s on the Way!

First Trax

Good morning people.  I hope everyone is doing mighty fine on this final week before Christmas.  It's crazy to think we are less than a week away.  What's also crazy is the fact that only three ski areas in the region are operating right now.  What?!  I've only been snowboarding for 6 or 7 seasons now but I can't remember only having three resorts open at this time of year (Wisp opened today!).  It's a real bummer and I know I'm not the only who is depressed about this.  Head on over to the messageboard and you'll find many people who feel the same way.  Cough davidski cough.

The last few days I've had to be the bearer of bad news to a lot of people who have called the office here asking about any open ski areas.  It's crazy how many calls we get from people asking about things now that our number is on the bottom of every page of the site.  I've felt bad this week as several people have said they are currently in the area and are trying to find an open resort.  When I told them only two were open (Wisp opened today) and one is in Asheville and the other is in West Virginia, I can immediately sense a change in their tone.

I've been optimistic though and have been telling them to just wait until the weekend if they can, because it looks like things are going to turn around fairly quickly.  Don't be fooled by the huge shield of rain on the radar this morning, some natural snow is in the forecast beginning tonight.  Much colder temperatures will move in as well and snowmaking is the word of the weekend.  Here's a rundown of what's going to happen…

It's going to rain today.  There's no other way of saying it.  A strong front will move through this evening/tonight and once that happens, temperatures are going to PLUMMET and a changeover to snow will commence for West Virginia and North Carolina.  Snow showers will continue tomorrow and even into Saturday for the WV locations.  The combination of that, high winds, and frigid temperatures will create some miserable conditions outside.  We're talking wind gusts of 50-60 mph here.  Brutal!  Winter storm warnings and advisories are already in effect for the mountains of NC and WV so don't get caught off guard if you're in those areas!

Winter Storm Warnings have already been issues for the mountains of West Virginia.

So what are we looking at in terms of snowfall numbers?  Here in North Carolina, they won't be that impressive.  It looks to be in the 1-5” range with Beech and Sugar on the higher end of that scale.  The real impressive snow will be up into West Virginia where those ski areas are looking at 4-12” or so.  It won't surprise me at all to see Snowshoe reporting a foot from this storm come Sunday morning, possibly even more.  However, the high winds will make it hard to get accurate measurements.  Those winds will also create some nice windloaded spots on the mountain that will feel deeper than a foot.  NORTHWEST FLOW FTW!

This is the NAM model snowfall forecast.  As you can see, the majority 
of snow will be up into West Virginia.

Snowmaking temperatures continue through the weekend so we should see more than three open ski areas by Christmas.  Hallelujah!  Personally, I'm excited for this but I'm also a little bummed because I will be in Northern Virginia for the entire week, so it doesn't look like I'll be snowboarding until 2013.   Terrible!  If you have a trip planned for this weekend or next weekend, you have lucked out.  I know Mike is headed up to Snowshoe the day after Christmas and it looks like he'll be getting up there for some of the best conditions they've had this season.  Jealous.

Let's go state by state now and see what's going on at each resort:


Winterplace:  Scheduled opening day is tomorrow.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them push that back until Saturday though based on how miserable it'll be tomorrow.  It'll be a fun weekend up there.  EDIT: Travis Roberts just called to let me know they will be opening on Sunday.

Snowshoe:  21 open trails on 78 acres.  They're about to get dumped on so look for more trails to open this weekend.  They have the best conditions in the region currently.  Enough said.

Canaan:  They have pushed back their opening date to December 26th to allow more time for snowmaking.

Timberline: They open tomorrow!  No word on what trails will be open but the cam up there shows some good looking piles of snow at the bottom.  See below.


Beech Mountain Resort:  No word on a re-opening date yet.  My guess is they will open Saturday.  That would give them a good 36 hours of snowmaking combined with the natural snow.  EDIT: Beech just announced on their Facebook page that they will be open tomorrow.

Sugar Mountain: They also have not said when they will try and re-open.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to see them open tomorrow but it'd be better to wait until Saturday to head out there.  Don't forget, the Sugarfest Rail Jam is happening this Saturday!

App Ski Mtn:  They will be re-opening on Saturday! Mother Nature hasn't been too kind to App this year but it looks like that is about to change.  With their impressive snowmaking infrastructure, look for them to have really good conditions for the weekend and also for the Rome Pre-Jib competition on Sunday.

Wolf Ridge:  We finally have an update from Wolf!  This was posted yesterday on their site: “The weather man is predicting much colder temperatures starting Thursday night. If the predictions hold, we will be able to begin making snow just in time for the holidays. Get your boards waxed and your edges sharpened, it is finally time to begin the season. We look forward to seeing you soon! “  Hopefully those guys can get up and running soon.

Cataloochee:  They remain the only open ski area in North Carolina with 3 open trails and a 4-20” base.  Just a heads up, night skiing has been postponed for the time being.  I'd imagine they'll resume that for the weekend.  Look for conditions to greatly improve there over the weekend.


Snowmaking in Virginia over the next several days will mainly be limited to the nighttime.  I know they are all hoping to open  ASAP but my guess is we won't see Bryce, Massanutten, or Wintergreen open until the day after Christmas.


Wisp:  I had no idea until just now, but Wisp opened for the season today!  They are reporting a 10” base and are skiing and riding on 2 trails.  They look to see a good bit of snow from this storm as well so look for their open terrain to increase by the weekend.


Ober Gatlinburg:  Temperatures have just not cooperated for the folks at Ober this year.  It does look like they will be able to make snow tonight, tomorrow night, and Saturday night.  We'll see how much snow they can lay down in that time period.  In the meantime, they are still offering tubing.  That slushie machine is looking more and more like a good investment!  Also, I think they have been converting the tubing area into a terrain park area on the weekends.  Check out this video over on the messageboard of a contest they had last weekend.  That's called doing the best with the cards you're dealt!  Kudos to them.

Woooo that was a lot of typing.  You guys probably won't hear from me again until the New Year, so everyone have a Merry Christmas!  And think snow!

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