Crazy Temperature Differences This Morning! Zero at Snowshoe, 42 at Cataloochee!

First Trax

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Good grief Matthew East! (I wished that we had a meteorologist by the name of Charlie Brown!)

Last week Matthew informed us of a change in weather patterns that was coming that he called a "split flow pattern". He basically explained this kind of pattern as one that can be a lot of fun with some intrusions of cold air and storms…but one that is harder to forecast with. The "split flow" is just what is sounds like. There are two general flows of air overhead with one stream on top of another going from west-to-east. Depending on where the upper stream is more colder air will filter within that stream.

This morning we’re seeing temperatures ranging from ZERO DEGREES at Snowshoe, to 10° at Canaan Valley, to 23° at Ober Gatlinburg, to 33° atop Hawksnest, to 42° as of 9am at Cataloochee (after a low of 27° overnight)! That is a range of 42 degrees from Snowshoe to Cat! Heck, Ober Gatlinburg is colder than several spots in North Carolina for the first time that I have seen that in my 12 years of reporting on this website. CRAZY differences from that northern flow to the southern one – huh?


We received more reports that included "icy conditions" in them than from any day that I can previously remember. Ice was widespread across the region as we received icy reports from WV to VA, to TN to NC.

That was Saturday, today is another day after those cold temps allowed for snowmaking overnight at a lot of ski areas that needed to lay down some manmade powder.

There’s not much that resorts can do about icy conditions and we simply have to accept them and hope that they are rare within each season. Count Saturday as an icy day on the hill, and Saturday evening about as bad as it gets in terms of icy conditions at several resorts.

I am not going to say where I skied Saturday evening. I was. I actually interviewed more than a dozen people on camera and asked the question: "On a scale from one (with one being poor) to ten (with ten being awesome, bomber and all of those superlatives), how would you rate the skiing or snowboarding tonight?"

The highest grade I got on camera was a four from someone who, I THINK, was just being sweet for the camera. The lowest was, "Don’t you have something lower than a one?"

The average grade at this particular resort for Saturday evening was a 3 to 4…and personally I think a "3" was a little high.

For those of you coming to this website looking for your video appearances, I apologize for telling you to look for yourself online today, but after I thought about it for about two minutes I simply don’t think that it would be fair to do the report because it would single out the resort that I happened to be at last night as perhaps "the only" ice barge in the region. Simply put, I have already received a couple of reports from others that were icy as hell on Saturday.

Such is the life of a ski area manager. Sometimes there’s not much you can do to make for a great day. There’s PLENTY OF BASE SNOW on the slopes, but when the weather comes along and decides it is time for refrigerator ice, I am not certain if it is even possible to GROOM the kind of surface that I was on last night. It was tough to stick your poles into. Poles were simply for maintaining balance last night, because you sure couldn’t plant them.

I ran into several people last night that I know, both at the resort and outside of the resort crew…so do me a favor and let’s not single these guys out. I think Saturday was probably tough all over.

I AM asking for trip reports from more than what we’ve heard from thus far, so it you rode at any of the resorts of the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic, how about drop us an email at [email protected]  or post your TR on the messageboard. Either way, let me hear from you guys on your take on Saturday and Saturday night skiing and snowboarding.

In closing, I saw a lot of pretty good skiers and snowboarders last night having a tough time. I saw many newbies scared to death. My only thought was, "If there were first timers on the slopes last night, they had to go home swearing never to ski or ride again, ever. They also had to wonder what all the fuss is about – about skiing!"

If there were people skiing this particular resort for the first time, (and I rode up with a few), then they got the wrong impression of how sweet things can be here. I expressed that sentiment to several people. Last night was JUST ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS!


Resorts were able to make snow last night for at least some of the night. Snowmaking will at least "safen up" the slopes for today at least for the first part of the day. Cataloochee looking WELL COMBED this morning via the webcam. Their groomers put corduroy to those slopes!

So, from what we’re seeing out of Ma Nature for the next few days, this will be a week of softening snow (that’s a good thing!) for the middle of the week and then a cold snowy end to it going into the weekend. So pack your gear and come on up – the conditions should be great.

By the way, if anyone was out at the Winterfest activities at Ski Beech during the day and caught any of the rail jam, bathing beauty contest, waiter/waitress races, etc…shoot us some pics (and a trip report).

One clever person summed up her experiences last night when she very seriously stated (not facetiously) that she would have rather had ice skates on last night…on the slopes. Again, we have to take the bad with the good.

Grooming will do wonders this morning, but expect a little icy conditions again today…with some resorts that are lacking base to be a bit icier.

Here is the Sunday tour of the area:

Wisp Resort – 16° – They made some snow overnight, but the guns are off today. Wisp is open with 34 trails, snow tubing, mountain coastering and 30 km of cross country skiing. They report a 9-15" base on the Nordic trails and a 20-65" base on the slopes. 16 degrees! Wisp is open for day sessions only today.

Canaan Valley – 10° – You guys think it’s cold in WV and Maryland?!?! They have 38 trails open, tubing, skating and airboarding for day sessions til 4:30pm today. Great conditions.

Timberline Resort – 9° – Notch them one degree colder and they have 32 trails open today and several open for night skiing tonight. They are reporting a 35-65" base and we give them a "top rated – 10 – as good as it gets).

Snowshoe Mountain – 0° – It is FORTY TWO DEGREES COLDER at Snowshoe this morning than at Cataloochee in North Carolina. WHAT!?!?!?! Crazy, split system that Meteorologist Matthew East was telling us about last week. Much colder air is filtering into the WV mountains than southward. Snowshoe is showing ZERO this morning and 59 trails open on an average base of 56". They get a "top rating of 10" from us!

Laura Parquette writes, "There’s a chance of snow this evening with a possible 1 to 2 inches of accumulation. More natural flakes are expected throughout the week giving skiers and riders prime conditions as they explore 100% of our open terrain. Our expert snowmaking team is back in action today firing up the guns on several slopes at Snowshoe. Please be aware of the snowmaking equipment and make sure to bring your goggles. Now’s a great time to get out there for first tracks and test out your carving legs on our freshly groomed trails."

Winterplace Resort – 16° – They are reporting no snow making on their website but they made snow overnight. They have 27 of 28 trails open and good conditions. They are reporting, "AWESOME Conditions!!! It doesn’t get any better than this!!!" We hate to burst that bubble but "not true" says several of our messageboard crew that rode at Winterplace on Saturday. They called it a rock hard, sheet of ice, but as we have said earlier in this report, there’s not anything that they could do about it. THINGS WILL BE BETTER TODAY and later in the week.

Wintergreen Resort – 16° – They made snow overnight and that will make for improved conditions over some reports of icy conditions on Saturday. They have all 26 trails open and good conditions!

Bryce Resort – 22° – They report no snowmaking but a 35-61" base on all 8 trails and snow tubing for today. We’re thinking that they made snow overnight and groomed to fix what was some icy conditions on several trails on Saturday according to two reports.

Massanutten Resort – 14° – They made snow and conditions will pay off for today on all 14 trails and 8 lanes of tubing.

Ober Gatlinburg – 23° – When is the last time you saw Ober colder than all of the North Carolina ski areas!?!?! I can’t think of another time on 12 years! This split system thingy is making for some strange oddities with weather across the region. Ober has 6 of 8 trails open and Groomed/Packed conditions with a base of 40-74". We rate it a "Top Rating of 9-10)

Appalachian is fully open and looking well groomed. App does a marvelous job with grooming and should be in pretty good shape. They are reporting an 85-111" base (we’re reporting a top rated – 10 – which means a great base depth with no thin coverage possible – perfect). All 10 trails, both terrain parks and ice skating open.

Cataloochee Ski Area – It is 42° at 8:50am this morning but Tammy Brown updated us Saturday evening around 9:30pm and it was 27° and they did make snow. She wrote, "We will be making snow tonight during non-skiing hours to improve skiing conditions and increase base depth."

Cat is open for day skiing only on Sundays with all 14 trails open and snow tubing as well.

Ski Beech – 25° – They are reporting that they are making snow this AM, but we’re not seeing any from the webcam angles. They may be making it on some of the other terrain. We know they made snow last night from their report and they are open with 11 trails, terrain park and snow tubing. We were not able to make it out to Winterfest, but thanks to Kelly Melang for sending some pics and a trip report. We will post those after getting this report finished. Beech reports a 32-62" base (we give them a rating of 8-9), which means pretty good, but with some thinning areas. The snowmaking last night will take care of those, but they could use some added base. (They really need that 3rd pump operational during these upcoming borderline snowmaking ops.) Reports are that they look pretty good, but need a little help from Ma Nature.

Sugar Mountain – 21° – They made snow but the guns are already off. They will have some very nice conditions particularly early on with a lot of manmade powder overnight. They report a base of 47-86" (we give them a 9-10, which is about as good as it gets) and they have all 20 trails open, ice skating and snow tubing open.

Wolf Ridge – 35° – That was the low overnight so snowmaking was doubtful. They do have 12 trails open and snow tubing for today. They are still reporting 8-9" of snow in the last 84 hours…

It has now been 140 hours.

Sapphire Valley is reporting a base of 50-80" with both trails open. We are rating the base as an 8-9 (meaning very good, but they do have some thin areas beginning to show.)

Hawksnest Tubing Park – It is 20° right now after being 20° last night and we don’t think Hawksnest made snow. Can you IMAGINE how fast the tubing hill is with the icy conditions? OMG!!! I wonder how they slow people down???

Go get us some photos and trip reports. If you’re out at the Cardboard Box Derby, grab some vids! …and ENJOY YOUR DAY!


We are now up to 67 people reporting that they plan to attend the SkiNC Summit on February 21st! That is only with 3 days of promotion. We’ll no doubt have more soon!

I was emailing with Rhyne Garris at Beech yesterday and then we spoke on the phone and we came up with a great idea that I think the messageboard peeps will get behind! The Ski Beech Patrol will be doing a fund raiser by grilling up tasty foods outside the View Haus all day on Saturday as they need to raise money for their own needs. HOWEVER, Beech has been gracious in agreeing to donate TWENTY PERCENT (20%) of the day’s take at the View Haus outside grill to the Helena Jolly Educational Fund!

For those unaware, back on October 14, 2008 we lost a member of the SkiNC family (and a lontime Ski Beech member). Jon Jolly, aka parisandrewsdaddy, was great friend to many people on the messageboard, and he was a great asset to the messageboard in general. Jon was a very giving person, and he went out of his way to help people out with gear, information, etc.

Now it is our chance to give back to him by contributing to his daughter’s educational fund. I can’t think of a better way to honor our friend than to help with his daughter’s education.

Ski Beech knows that our SkiNC crowd will probably dominate the outside, picnic area in front of the View Haus and they are already planning to have plenty of barrels of beverages for sale as well, and this is a great way of having a great place to meet and greet…and help out a couple of great causes at the same time!

If you have not heard about it yet, we are inviting our visitors to come ski and ride with us at Ski Beech on February 21st as we celebrate the SkiNC / Ski Beech Summit. Check out the page at: SkiNC Ski Beech Summit and come join the fun and ski for half price!

go ski!!!!

Send your comments, photos, videos, and trip reports to: [email protected]


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