First Trax

Those of you who follow us on Twitter (if you're reading this and are not doing so – you KNOW you really SHOULD, right? Click here to do so.) will know that around noon on Saturday I happened to visiting family down on Columbia, South Carolina. You also know that I tweeted out that at noon it was 77° and then by 2pm it hit 82°.

I was at Dick's Sporting Goods in Harbison and they were doing Little League Baseball registrations! I'm telling you when it's THAT warm off the mountain, there's not much that we or anyone else can do to get people inspired to head to the mountains. I mean, we TRY and we'll continue to, because in all honesty some of MY most enjoyable skiing has been on soft snow while wearing a long-sleeved shirt and very thin, thinsulate-style gloves.

However on Saturday I was down in Cola-town ACTUALLY with the air-conditioner ON in the car at mid-day as the sun beat down – making it FEEL much warmer. That took me back to memories of the time I lived there some 22 years ago. Even though I and my wife were skiers back then, when it turned THAT WARM we didn't give a THOUGHT to being on the snow. Heck I've been on LAKE MURRAY water skiing in January and February when it was much cooler than that. I can only imagine how crowded the golf courses were off the mountain on Saturday.

While in Dick's I overheard a father tell his son (who apparently didn't have a say in the matter) that they were going fishing on Sunday. My daughters are ALL "lake people" as well, and my two youngest saw the 82° reading on Saturday and immediately informed me that we should have been headed to Watauga Lake instead of driving around the midlands of South Carolina.

I HAVE to admit that I thought that it might be kind of neat to head over there today.

THAT IS the battle that we face in the snow sports industry. With PLENTY of snow on the slopes and some residual NATURAL SNOW still laying around at the highest elevations – we're faced with the challenge of getting that message out! Of course it doesn't help us a ton when even our own meteorologists lead off their video updates talking about "all the melting". I saw several weather guys and gals recently commenting on the ski resorts as if there were massive floodwaters pouring off the mountains right now.

…Winterplace Resort this morning looks pretty inviting doesn't it?

While the base depths ARE waning and while resorts are dropping slope counts right now, THERE IS good, skiable, side-to-side coverage at most every ski area right now. One look at the WINTERPLACE RESORT CAM and others will attest to the fact that it isn't "M-E-L-T-I-N-G! AHHHHH!!!!" It might be "melting" (with non cap letters, but it isn't like it's disappearing before our very eyes.)

As Herb Stevens reminded our readers the other day, manmade snow is FIVE TIMES more dense than natural snow and it simply sticks around longer.

So I guess the message that I need to share today has a multiple-prong to it.

A: There's PLENTY OF GOOD, Side-to-Side Coverage on most all of the resorts right now. The snow is SOFT and VARIABLE but not yet Spring "corn".

2: COLD WEATHER is in the forecast beginning Tuesday night of this week which will make for great snowmaking.

C: Some NATURAL SNOW is in the forecast as well. …and

6: MLK Weekened conditions should be rather nice…so keep or make those reservations.

(For those of you who always send me 'grammar lessons' I KNOW I just posted A, 2, C, 6…)

…and YES I use "dot, dot, dots" a lot. I THINK pauses and dots, so I use them. Get over it.


Let's get the bad news out of the way. We have TWO MORE DAYS of the January THAW left and we'll probably see some rain later this evening and into Monday, Monday night and early on Tuesday. Those rains should be of the half-inch variety around all of the resort areas and then turn into some snow Tuesday night at some resorts. Snow is in the forecast for Thursday at Snowshoe. Although we're not seeing the teens-for-highs that Brad Panovich was forecasting last week, it will be plenty cold for snowmaking at the most northern West Virginia and Maryland resorts on Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and then around the clock from Wednesday night through sometime on Saturday when highs are expected to reach into the mid 30s. THAT should make for awesome conditions up that way.


Things will be a notch milder and wetter in Virginia this week with rain and a wintry mix from tonight through Wednesday really. We're not seeing snowmaking temps around Wintergreen and Nellysford, Virginia until MAYBE Wednesday night when it is expected to dip to 31°. Thursday night and Friday nights look good for snowmaking with lows in the mid to upper 20s. It should be a nice weekend next weekend on and off the slopes with highs in the mid 40s and lows in the mid 20s.


Looking around Beech we're seeing showers moving in this evening and lasting through Tuesday night with around an inch of rain possible in that period. Snowmaking temps don't find their way here until MAYBE Wednesday night with lows in the 28° range. If they get that low, there WILL be snowmaking. Thursday and Friday nights look like mid to upper 20s and nice snowmaking. Highs on Saturday of upper 30s and low 40s looks likely.

(Again, not exactly the frigid temps we heard were heading our way. More about those in a moment!)

We're seeing things a notch milder over towards Wolf Laurel so snowmaking may not occur over there until Thursday evening. They will be hurting for some snow by then, as will Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee although Cat will hold up much better.


Hold on to your hats and make sure you know where those balaclavas are! If you don't own one and want to ski or ride in a week or so, you'll want one! If you don't know what they ARE you'll want to learn.

About a week ago Brad Panovich began forecasting frigid temps of highs in the teens and lows in the single digits. Those were thought to be coming in by MLK Weekend. We have a client up in Bayfield, Wisconsin on Lake Superior and I was watching HEAVY, Charlie-Brown like snowflakes falling there on Saturday while enjoying the 82° day in Columbia. One look at that camera at: will tell you that there is PLENTY of cold air up there. If you were watching the Denver Broncos game last night it was 13° and game time and dropping into the single digits.

That cold air is out there but that pesky system blocking that from making its way here is like the Raven's defense. However it WILL COME. WE WILL SEE COLD AND SNOW.

Get ready for the wild ride!!!

Since it hit 82° for me on Saturday I looked around this morning and saw that Boone, NC broke a record for high temps yesterday (on this date). We saw 69° on Saturday and that broke a record set back in 1937 of 66°. Black Mountain and Maggie Valley also broke records. Maggie saw 72° yesterday.

Temperatures have been 20-25° ABOVE NORMAL for this time of year – over the last few days. How's that for some Global Warming? Of course, bear in mind that it was this mild back in 1937.

However if you're into "climate change" you're going to want to pay attention. We're headed for temperatures AT LEAST 30 degrees below normal in 10 days. Ready for the ride?!

Many of the higher elevations will see highs BELOW ZERO as we head into Tuesday, January 22nd. Highs will be in the single digits in places like Boone, Wolf Ridge and BELOW ZERO at places like Snowshoe, Canaan, Beech, etc.

It will take a bit to make it through Western Canada as this coming week will be much more NORMAL for this time of year with some snowmaking as mentioned earlier. However if you've been waiting on COLD, COLD air. This is your cup of tea.


Late January and heading into February will be so cold that we're thinking that pesky Groundhog that likes to make an appearance early in February won't want to show his face…at least without one of those balaclavas…

The LOW (“Polar Vortex”) will be moved far south, leading to a strong flow from Central Canada toward us. And it has the HIGH right over Greenland-the Negative NAO. That’s an impressive blocking pattern, which should keep the cold air in for a while. How long? It’s not clear yet, but the next couple of weeks could be the key to what will happen for the rest of winter.



One of our readers posted this question this morning: "Why do the cams not work anymore after midnight? I used to watch them all during the night. Thank you."

You answered your own question. That's WHY we turn them off at midnight…BECAUSE some people camp on them all night. It makes no sense for us to pay bandwidth for inky black darkness.


On Jan 07, 2013, Shaun Goodwin hosted a race workshop with ASM Junior Race Team

ASM was excited to have Shaun Goodwin, a renowned US Ski Team coach, help out with a special workshop for the Appalachian Junior Race Team, along with the ASM coaching staff.

Shaun started his coaching career at a small alpine racing program at Bristol Mountain in upstate NY. Starting as a coach Shaun moved on to run the Bristol Ski and Snowboard Association managing 125 athletes and 20 coaches. During his years at Bristol Shaun became the youngest chairperson to the New York State Ski Racing Association alpine development committee. It was there that he connected with the US Ski Team. After moving on from Bristol Mountain, Shaun spent 8 years working for and with the US Ski Team. During his tenure with USSA/USST he focused on everything from children’s athletic development and coaches’ education, to coaching the US Women’s Ski Team. Now Shaun has moved on to run a small media company in upstate New York. He is still an acting member of the USSA coaches education staff as well project to project involvement with US Ski Team Programming. Shaun is also an avid whitewater kayaker and travel enthusiast who loves to share stories from his travels that span from Asia and the Middle East, to Africa and most places in-between!

Skiing 101 @ Beech

January is Learn to "Ski and Snowboard Month," and Beech Mountain is offering you a basic course!

"Enrollment" is just $101 per person for a great package that includes:

• Ski or snowboard lesson

• Ski or snowboard equipment rental

• A full-day lift ticket

• Helmet rental for extra safety

• One night's lodging, based on double occupancy

This offer is open to anyone age eight or older. The lesson package is available Monday through Friday, with lodging available Sunday through Thursday nights. Valid the entire month of January.

So grab a friend or family member and take advantage of this unique opportunity to venture into a new sport. Or if you're already a skier or snowboarder, it's the perfect opportunity to brush up on your skills.

Participating Lodging…
4 Seasons at Beech    Archers Inn    Beech Chalet Rentals   Pinnacle Inn


This winter bring the kids and have a blast with AFFORDABLE FAMILY FUN in Maggie Valley and Waynesville North Carolina.  

With the “Kids Stay Free Kids Ski Free” program, children 17 and under can STAY OVERNIGHT FREE at a participating Haywood County Accommodations on any non-holiday Sunday through Thursday evening and ski free on any non-holiday Monday-Friday, when accompanied by an adult.

But the fun doesn’t stop on the slopes. Restaurants and merchants in the area will also be offering giveaways and special deals throughout the season, making your winter getaway even more affordable.”


Located a mile high in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Cataloochee Ski Area is committed to making your skiing and snowboarding experience the best it can be. Cataloochee utilizes some of the most advanced snowmaking systems in the Southeast and offers 100% snowmaking on 16 lighted slopes including the Cat Cage Terrain Park. With a variety of terrain for beginners to experts alike, the Cataloochee experience offers something for everyone.
Plan your winter mountain getaway in Maggie Valley and Waynesville, North Carolina

It’s all about the AFFORDABLE FAMILY FUN!

FIGHTING THE FIGHT – PART TEN: We're going to save space and just tell you that every resort HAS thin coverage areas and bare spots, especially as the day goes on. Not all are reporting them, but they are there. However at this time all of the resorts have very good coverage to enjoy a day on the mountain. All should weather this mild stretch until cold air returns this week…in time to have good-to-great conditions for the upcoming MLK weekend.


WINTERGREEN RESORT: 53.1°; 14 of 26 Slopes; Terrain Park; Snow Tubing (Some thin areas and bare spots.) We really like the job these guys are doing. This morning they are already telling us and anyone else who will listen that they WILL make snow Tuesday night and that they will open more slopes this week.

They wrote, "With the January thaw coming to an end, we are switching into slope rebuild mode.  Cold temperatures forecasted for this week will allow us to make lots of snow, increase base depths, re-open closed trails and provide fantastic conditions for the upcoming weekend.  Keep checking this report for the most current slope information including slope openings and our snowmaking plans."

SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN: 34°; 44 of 60 Slopes; Terrain Parks; Snow Tubing; Snowmobiling
34° this morning?!?! Yep. Seems that the cold air has not entirely left Pocahontas County! They are not making snow but the snow firms up great early and loosens as the day goes on. There IS bare spots and some thin coverage but Snowshoe leads the way in the best conditions, most terrain open department. It is what it is…    

MASSANUTTEN RESORT: 52°; 8 of 14 Slopes; Terrain Park; 10 lanes of Snow Tubing
The mountain really looks quite good. See:

CANAAN VALLEY RESORT: 52°; 20 of 42 Slopes; Terrain Park; Snow Tubing. (After dropping a bunch of slopes from Friday to Saturday, Canaan dropped 4 more today. They are looking good on open terrain though and will get back to making snow early this week and reopen terrain this week in time for a great MLK Weekend.

TIMBERLINE RESORT: 52°; 22 of 40 Slopes; Terrain Parks; Snow Tubing
Lots of nice terrain to ride and the the cams showing a lot of smiling faces! See:

THE HOMESTEAD RESORT: 53°; 4 of 10 Slopes; Snowmobiles are open; Tubing closed until further notice.

WISP RESORT: 51°; 25 of 32 Slopes; Snow Tubing; Ice Skating; Terrain Parks

BRYCE RESORT: 42.5°; 5 of 8 Slopes; Snow Tubing

BEECH MOUNTAIN RESORT: 46°; 10 of 15 Slopes; Terrain Park; Ice Skating (Dropped 5" on base and one open trail. Some thin coverage and bare areas.) Slopes look pretty darn good on BOTH CAMS this morning. The weather finally cleared and the new Streaming, Slopeside Cam is looking good as the day goes on. Early this morning expect some fog until it clears. This shows nice slope views and also the Beech Mountain Parkway. See:

APPALACHIAN SKI MOUNTAIN: 53°; 10 of 12 Slopes; Terrain Parks; Ice Skating

WINTERPLACE RESORT: 52°; 22 of 27 Slopes; Snow Tubing; Terrain Parks (Some bare areas and thin spots.) I was looking around a lot last night at the Winterplace camera. Things look pretty sweet at the Ghent, WV resort! see:

CATALOOCHEE SKI AREA: 53.2°; 11 of 17 Slopes with some bare spots and thin coverage; Terrain Park; Snow Tubing. (Dropped 6" of base and 2 more open trails.)

SAPPHIRE VALLEY SKI AREA: 58°; 2 of 2 Slopes; Snow Tubing. (Not reporting base depths and have thin coverage and bare spots.)

OBER GATLINBURG: 62°; 3 of 9 Slopes; Snow Tubing; Ice Skating

SUGAR MOUNTAIN RESORT: 47.2; 13 of 20 Slopes; Terrain Park; Snow Tubing; Ice Skating. (Sugar reporting thin and bare areas.)

WOLF RIDGE RESORT: 57°; 8 of 22 Slopes; Terrain Park; Tubing; (Some bare spots and thin coverage. showings 2 more days til their back…whatever that means.)


Email me your thoughts and reactions at: [email protected]

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Shaun Goodwin, a renowned US Ski Team coach, helped out with a special workshop for the Appalachian Junior Race Team
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