First Trax

We want to recruit you guys to do us a favor. If you come here each morning or with some regular frequency to get your news about the ski resorts, recommend us to your friends. If you find the webcams that we provide via cool to watch, then tell others. If you think Brad Panovich and Herb Stevens are the "go to" weathermen that you can depend on for accurate ski and snowboarding forecasts, then pass that insight on to your mountain loving circle of friends.

If you think that occasionally I come up with some interesting reading material or if you enjoy Kenny Griffin, Tonette Fisk or Joe Stevens' content then pass the word on.

I was looking at data from over the last few years and there is no question that we have experienced some "unusual" weather anomalies over the last two seasons that would seem to contribute to a period of apathy towards bringing new people to the sport of skiing and snowboarding within the region. After all, it IS kind of hard to STAY excited when one day you walk out your door to experience 8° temps and the next four days are spring-like 60s. We've unquestionably seen more "under-developed" snow this season than usual.

That and an economy that sputters, starts and stops like an old Model T Ford have made it a challenge for ski areas to "stand pat" financially and otherwise. Although most mountain admins won't say it out loud, they will all tell you that they have been dreaming up ways to get the message out about how good conditions are RIGHT NOW, because RIGHT NOW we're experiencing the best conditions on the slopes of nearly every ski mountain in the region – that we've seen in two seasons.

Do you realize that as of TODAY, Canaan Valley and Timberline Resorts have seen 126" of snow on the season. During the ENTIRE 2011-2012 season they only saw 110" of snow.

Snowshoe Mountain has 110" so far this season which is ONLY TWO INCHES below the snow total from ALL of last year.

Beech Mountain Parkway this morning via the Beech Slopeside Cam

Do you guys realize that Beech Mountain's 5506' elevations NORMALLY AVERAGE 80" of snow per season and that through TODAY Beech has seen 67.3"? February is normally the snowiest month of each season and with some 4-6 weeks left in the season, we're pretty certain that Beech will meet or exceed their normal annual snowfall. During the 2011-2012 season Beech only saw 46.2" of snow, so we are WAY ahead of that number!

The Smoky Mountains have been semi snow starved in the last two seasons, but even they are doing pretty well in terms of coming up to what most would consider a normal snow season. Cataloochee averages 40" of snow per season and right now they are at 24.5" and with a good February and March should come close to reaching normal snowfall numbers. Last season Cat only saw 12.7" so we are DOUBLE that already this season!

WISP Resort in Maryland has a ten year average of 100" of snow each season and they are already at 124" on this season after 77" last year. So Wisp is already at 124% of normal.

Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock averages 50" of snow per season and with 30.7" of snowfall so far this season they are within reach of attaining that number by the end of March when they close for the winter. App is already nearly DOUBLE what they saw in all of 2011-2012 when only 18.7" of snow fell.


While this HAS been one crazy, roller-coaster of a season, we are experiencing GREAT CONDITIONS right now and the slopes are in great shape pretty much across the board.

When you factor in the amazing snowmaking capabilities of our Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski resorts these days, we should be experiencing some amazing visitor numbers.

We're living in an age when with two or three keystrokes on your cell phone you can tell anyone who gives a flip about you (and many who could care less) about your day on the slopes, etc.

We have so many HIREZ, LIVE CAMS focused at the slopes these days that you can take note when a mosquito farts, much less see every snowflake that falls. It used to be that I would alert you guys when the snowguns would crank up at this or that resort. Nowadays we have so many people camped on these webcams that YOU TELL US when the first water-spray escapes from Gunther's Sugar Mountain snowguns.

Weather forecasting – although still a crap shoot – is certainly better than it has ever been and with weather stations dotting every ski area these days you can plan whether or not you should make reservations a week or two in advance these days.


With all of these marvels that modern technologies can provide us, we're STILL seeing some things that we'd like to correct.

Brad Moretz called me a week or so ago (Brad man I KNOW I need to get back in touch with you this week 😉 and you could hear the frustration in his voice. The source of his frustrations were news services off the mountain who were warning their audiences NOT to make the drive to the mountains because you couldn't get to the ski areas anyway.

Meteorologists these days seem to have taken courses during their formidable years in drama. It seems that they can't just forecast and report on the weather…they have to dramatize it.

Words like Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse and Snowzilla are becoming commonplace. Hell, The Weather Channel is now NAMING every snowstorm. Giving a storm a name will make it more dramatic…right? The massive snowstorm that hit New York in October was a "snowacane" which somehow makes it worse than a Nor'easter???

It almost seems that meteorologists are now being challenged by their television stations to "amp up" their reports. If you ask me, it's a bunch of "snoverkill".


Right NOW Appalachian Ski Mountain has a base snow depth of 46-76". "Inches" don't paint the picture clearly enough. That's from nearly FOUR FEET to SIX FEET of snow! The forecast for MONDAY in Banner Elk is for highs in the mid 50s with some light rain showers possible. Monday night's low will be around 32°.

Should a TV Weather reporter look at that forecast, the inevitable comment will be something like, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news to you skiers and snowboarders out there, but there's a lot of melting going on out there on the slopes right now."

THAT SIMPLY WON'T BE THE CASE. Monday's weather day MIGHT drop the base depths by an inch of snow…leaving behind STILL MORE THAN FOUR FEET of snow!

ANOTHER way that weather reports hurt the public's perception is when we see more than two inches of snow. SNOW IS MAIN ATTRACTION for the mountains during the winter. We WANT SNOW. Yet the drama infusion into weather reporting seems to require weather peeps to tell everyone to stay off the roads. I remember a couple of years ago when Lori Epp of Wisp Resort emailed and then called me asking if there was ANYTHING that we could do to tell the public that their roads were fine. Weather reporters in Washington DC had warned millions of people tuned to their televisions that the roads were CLOSED heading to the mountains…when in fact they were not.

Appalachian's Brad Moretz is considering adding TWO LIVE CAMERAS on their approach road off of Hwy 321 to SHOW people that their entrance roads are always clear.

The biggest snowstorms of this season to date at Beech Mountain have come on:

October 30-November 1, 2012: 11"
January 18, 2013: 11.2"
January 31-February 4, 2013: 14.8"

I can PROMISE YOU that NO ROADS were closed and other than a short hour or two of sketchy road conditions going up Beech Mountain Parkway, the roads were easily driveable.

Last weekend my nineteen year old daughter drove to and from Blacksburg, Virginia and Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia in a snowstorm that dumped more than a foot of snow on that mountain and she never had an issue driving in it.

Our Department of Transportation crews within the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina are amazingly well equipped and passionate about keeping our roadways clear of deep snows and other than within a 24 hour-long blizzard – they can keep the roadways clear…and they do!

Yet TV and radio weather peeps go on the air and tell people otherwise.


If we could start a grassroots effort within the social media outlets to simply get an accurate message out during "mild ups" and "blizzards" I think we'd affect the drama queens out there in weather forecasting land. I've skied with and enjoy watching and hearing from Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, but I think everyone in the industry will tell you that old Jim is perhaps the biggest weather drama "king" on the planet. We're NEVER experiencing any kind of normal weather. If it's too mild, the planet is dying; if it's a hurricane, he's posed with one foot in the surf…and so on. He's hellaciously popular and I suppose every weather guru out there wants his or her audience to grow and love them.

These days Mark Mancuso, Cantore and others are in Twitter land being tweeted from and sending Tweets at blazing levels. Frankly I don't know if they sleep. I have to wonder if these guys actually are doing all of this Tweeting themselves or whether they have some flunky doing it for them. Our own Brad Panovich is followed by 16,000+ peeps who adore him and hang on his every tweet. Heck – I do! When Brad tweeted last night about the potential for Snow in North and South Carolina for this week, thousands responded.

Obviously SOCIAL MEDIA is here to stay and where it is headed is anyone's guess. We're connected now like never before and like old Phil on Duck Dynasty says, "I'm pretty sure that's NOT a good thing."

My closest friends and family have heard me state for more than ten years now that the cell phone is the single worst invention ever. I still stand by that because there seems to be no real filter to keep it from monopolizing everyone's day. My wife is punching buttons more these days than I care to relate. You can't go to a movie theatre these days without hearing dozens of clicks happening all around you. You ever wonder why they have their sound systems pegged to the hilt?

HOWEVER…if you guys are going to stay camped and connected to every piece of electronics available..then we want to recruit you to use those things to help us spread the word…the ACCURATE WORD about our mountains, conditions, weather, roads, etc.

Do us a favor and if you have an email address (who doesn't) email a few of your friends to visit, and We KNOW you're on Facebook and Twitter and I'd really appreciate it if you will simply tell YOUR friends and followers to have a look at and follow us.

What I'd like to see is how VIRAL you guys can affect things. It would be cool as heck to setup an audience that broadcasts every flake a snow that falls, the road conditions and more such that the television and radio weather peeps will get an accurate picture of what's happening at YOUR favorite ski resort so that we can KEEP an accurate news flow of what people off the mountain should expect here.

If these weather guys get pounded with tweets then it will undoubtably affect their on-air message. They say that information is the most valuable commodity and we're hoping that you guys will help us to get that grassroots effort started.

To get the ball rolling, FOLLOW US at We will get Twitter and Facebook accounts setup for because we KNOW a ton of you are on that site all the time. Email and tweet out to your friends to have a look and FOLLOW US if they like what they see. The more people we can have who are reporting real time…the more we can affect the news off the mountain.

Far fetched? Outside our scope of influence? I don't know…let's see what you guys and gals can do. If each of you who are reading this will join us in the effort…I KNOW our ski area peeps will appreciate it!


Conditions are so good right now that a lot of ski resorts that COULD have made snow, didn't.

APP – 32°; No Snowmaking
BEECH – 34°; Yes, still were this morning
CAT – 36.3°; No
SAPH – 30.9°; No
SUGAR – 28°; Overnight made snow
WOLF – 29.7°; No (Up to 10 trails open of 22)

BRYCE – 17°; No
MASS – 29.8°; Yes, still were this morning
HOMESTEAD – 22.1°; Yes, still were this morning
WINTERGREEN – 25.8°; Yes, still were this morning

CANAAN – 14°; No
SNOWSHOE – 19°; No

WISP – 19°; No
OBER – 49°; No


From the look of parking lots at Sugar and App on Saturday I'd say that this was a huge weekend. Outback Steakhouse in Blowing Rock and Storie Street Grill had 1.5 hour waits at 7pm last night – I know because we tried dining there!

Those are all signs of BIG visits on Saturday.

The webcams were ALL showing crowded slopes…which is a great thing.

Check the snow report page as some ski areas are only open for DAY SESSIONS on Sundays.

I'm all tapped out now…go ski or ride.


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

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They're ALL FREE to Join, Subscribe or Follow Us and we promise to keep you well-informed. Share our website with your friends. We'd appreciate it a lot.

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