Cold Temps Are Invading the Ski Areas! Snowmaking has Started Up Again!

First Trax

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]

First of all – IT’S SNOWING! Maybe not puking or bombing snow, but we are getting reports of snow from around the region. That signals the fact that it’s cold! We’re seeing temps like 25.8° atop Sugar (see that at, and about the same at Beech Mountain. Blowing Rock’s Appalachian Ski Mountain is showing a 30° reading and there IS SNOW MAKING HAPPENING atop Sugar’s pinnacle. Again, they are not making snow just yet at the base, but that will happen later in the evening if not before.

Temperatures further north into Virginia and West Virginia are hovering in the mid to upper 30s and milder this morning as the rain system that dumped 3-4" of RAIN within the last 24 hours is now making its way through that part of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. David Lesher’s Canaan Valley Weather reported a 51° reading at 7am this morning. While the resorts into West Virginia and Virginia have not seen the heavy rains that the North Carolina resorts received, the colder temps have not filtered into the area just yet either.

The timing of this system looks to be forecasted to drop colder temps into the region later Tuesday evening and that could make for about 3" of snow up around Snowshoe, Canaan and Timberline, with maybe 1-3" around Winterplace Resort in Ghent, WV.

The higher elevations of Beech and Sugar should expect about the same thing. It was snowing at 7am this morning as I left out. The ground and vehicles were all covered in a wet snow. That has just about stopped and now we’re expecting the snow to return later in the PM as temperatures dive down to 24-26° across the entire region overnight. Snowmaking equipment should be firing up all across the Southeast and Mid Atlantic as colder temps are forecasted to notch a bit colder on Wednesday. Most ski areas will be able to make snow on each of the next few nights with lows in the 20s each night with the lone exception of Thursday night. Some of the ski areas like Snowshoe, Canaan and Timberline and maybe Winterplace may be able to make snow around the clock beginning later today through sometime on Thursday. The forecasted high at Snowshoe for Wednesday is 28°, so there will be some major snow put down over the next couple of days.

Appalachian Ski Mountain will be cranking up their system for the second time this season and they are hoping to open this Friday.

Late on Monday the rains that came into the High Country area were about as monsoon-like as I’ve seen during any winter season since about 17-18 years ago when 11" of rain hit on MLK Weekend. That rain event took out roadways and killed every bit of snow that the resorts had at that time. Monday’s rain didn’t take away any snow to speak of because thankfully none of the ski areas around here had any snow on their slopes! 3.67" of rain fell in the last 24 hours atop Beech Mountain according to John Hoffman of Fred’s General Mercantile. I can ditto that amount here at our offices. A high sustained wind of 38 mph was driving that rainfall last night and the Watauga River was threatening to rise above the Sleepy Hollow Covered Bridge below my home.

That said – the rains are gone for the most part and we’re now seeing the cold temps that have been in the forecast for several days now making their way into the mountain communities. We’ll keep our eye on things for you as resorts rally to crank up their snowmaking mechanism and blanket the slopes with new, machine made snow. With some added "ambience" natural snow we will no doubt see Sugar Mountain Ski Resort open first – possibly as early as Wednesday – although Thursday looks like a more probable day to re-open for them. Cataloochee will work to get open Saturday and as we mentioned earlier, we could see Appalachian Ski Mountain open on Friday.

As we get other news from around the region, we’ll update you. Stay tuned as we may now be seeing the real start of the 2011-2012 ski and snowboarding season.


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