Let’s cover the good news first and then bring in a dose of unfortunate reality.
First – Happy Belated Birthday to Joe Stevens who turned another year older on Wednesday.
Today looks to be like a wonderful day to hit the slopes of the region. Thanks to Matt Laws for churning out the news of the day over the last few days – but when I last reported in this past weekend, I shared a bit of a prediction in terms of snowmaking opportunities for each of the ski areas of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. You can see that post HERE.
The gist of that post was that the forecast at that time seemed to provide the following in the way of snowmaking windows of opportunity.
5-6 +/- nights at Snowshoe Mountain, Canaan Valley & Timberline Mountain
4-5 +/- nights at Winterplace Resort
3-5 nights around Beech and Sugar Mountain
2-3 nights at Appalachian Ski Mountain
2-3 nights at Cataloochee Ski Area
2-3 nights at Wintergreen Resort, Massanutten, Omni Homestead and Bryce
2-3 nights at Wolf Ridge Resort
0-1 night at Ober Gatlinburg
That forecast held up to be pretty accurate…fortunately for most of the ski resorts and unfortunately for Ober Gatlinburg, Sapphire Valley Resort and Wolf Ridge. Wolf was able to make some snow and their base area looks to be available to open – probably in the next day or so. However, with some rain moving in over this weekend, it remains to be seen if Wolf will decide to open. Ober Gatlinburg is offering every kind of winter-mountain fun that a person could enjoy EXCEPT for skiing & snowboarding and they are fighting an amazing fight against simply non-existent winter conditions at the popular, Smoky Mountain ski area.
Sapphire Valley reported that they “just can not say when the Ski Area will open. Warmer and wetter weather this past week has really set the snow making operations back.”
A view of Sapphire this morning
As of TODAY, those are the only ski areas NOT able to make snow and be open.
So the good news here is that ALL of the other ski resorts in the region have been able to blast the slopes over the last few days and most are offering really quite excellent conditions in spite of a challenging December in terms of temperatures.
Check out these sweet photos from this morning:
Today should be pretty awesome if you’re able to take a pre-Christmas day off and head to the mountains.
The Primo Conditions Today Would Be:
Beech Mountain, Cataloochee and Sugar Mountains in North Carolina and then Snowshoe Mountain, Timberline Mountain and Winterplace Resort in West Virginia where there has been LOTS of snowmaking happening over the past few days.
Snowshoe boasts 31 trails open today, and Timberline Mountain and Winterplace are both playing on 12 trails with excellent conditions.
Again – Check out this cord at Snowshoe’s Silver Creek this morning.
Fighting the Fight…
The Virginia ski areas are fighting the hardest fight this season, other than the aforementioned Sapphire, Wolf and Ober ski areas. It has simply been frustrating for them as there have been some REALLY cold nights here and there, but they’ve been so spread out, followed by mild stretches and rain, that they’ve been doing an amazing job of even being able to BE open (in the case of all except Omni Homestead Resort).
Since I am talking “fight”, ALL of our resort managers are having the fight of their lives thus far this season. 2020 was challenging, with covid, etc., but the weather cooperated and while staff shortages were a “thing last season” they were NOTHING like the staff issues that are facing all of the ski areas this season.
Demand is UP again, but resorts are really having issues filling positions with many people simply opting to not work…at least in these kinds of positions.
This season resorts are fighting mother nature’s unwillingness to play nice. They are also fighting to hire enough people to operate smoothly AND they are still fighting covid, the Omicron variant and more. Most people are “over covid” and simply want to live their lives, but the unfortunate truth is that mostly due to fear and uncertainty (and a lot of misinformation) we are still not dealing with it very well.
We’ve already heard of college football bowl games threatening to cancel …and NOW, one of our sister ski areas, Wintergreen Resort is having to add Omicron to their list of obstacles in their way of being able to operate. On Wednesday (December 22) they were very open with their guests and the general public in letting people know that roughly a dozen members of their staff had tested positive for Covid. Fast forward a day and their case count is now at approximately 30 of their associates.
They shared, “…like in other parts of the country and in other tight communities like professional sports, this variant seems determined to spread, even among the fully vaccinated, and our case count has risen to approximately 30 of our associates.”
While the symptoms seem to be “rather mild”, Wintergreen continues to adhere to strict quarantine guidelines for those directly impacted which includes more than half of their chefs, line cooks, and restaurant teams.
They shared, “Unfortunately, that means we do not have enough staff to operate much of our food and beverage operations beyond our essential services.”
…as if not having the best weather conditions isn’t enough, right?!?!
Check the SNOW REPORT, because today will likely be THE BEST day to play…
Our own, Matt Laws is at Beech Mountain Resort today. He provided the Photo of the Day up top. I am wrapping up this post and I, my wife and youngest daughter are headed up there as well. We will post some photos and videos.
In closing…more than a few of our readers have asked if we had ever seen a start quite like the 2021-2022 ski season. The answer is…sure and maybe, maybe not. It’s been a while, but a few years back most of our ski areas were closed for skiing and snowboarding on all but one or two days of the Christmas to New Year’s Holiday. So we’re in a LOT better shape than that. We MAY get some rain over the Holiday period, but the base snow should be plenty to operate all week at most of our resorts.
In terms of snowfall – boy howdy it HAS been a snow drought like I haven’t seen in my 26 years covering the region. However, our buddy David Lesher of Canaan Valley weather posted this:
The snow drought in these early weeks of winter continues. The 13 inches so far this season is far below the long term average of 34 inches for this date. Despite that, this low amount does not necessaarily bode badly for how much snow will fall by the end of the winter of 2021-22. For example, on this date in the winter of 2006-07, only 16 inches of snow had fallen so far and the winter went on the produce a total of 194 inches. On the other hand, on this date in 2001, only 4 inches had fallen so far and by winter’s end the total only came to 82 inches.
That will do it for me today. We are truly thankful for you, our readers. Check back tomorrow for more!
Email me at [email protected]
#AppSkiMtn #BeechMountainResort #BryceResort #CanaanValleyResort #CataloocheeSkiArea #MassResort #Massanutten #OberGatlinburg #OmniHomesteadResort #SapphireValley #SnowshoeMountainResort #skisugar #TimberlineMountain #WintergreenResort #winterplaceskiresort #WispResort #WolfRidgeResort
#ski #snowboarding #winter #snow #boone #northcarolina #mountains #visitnc #wnc #appalachia #blueridgemountains #photooftheday #ncmountains #nc_daily #snowing