High Winds Force Some Closures But COLD and some SNOW is on the Way!

First Trax

Stay up to date by getting notified of new posts!

I think that some of our visitors enjoy having little verbal tête-à-têtes with us. We showed some photos of some of the ski areas yesterday and we received three emails from people making claims that we were showing great photos of a few resorts and poor ones for one or two as if we were attempting to sway you guys from going to one resort or another. THANKFULLY most of our readers know us far better than that. We also have a lot of resort management and other personel who visit this website almost daily and I think that sometimes some of the "lower tier" of employees at some of these resort don’t like it when we report anything but the best of pristine conditions at their hill.

For the record – WE DON’T LIKE REPORTING LESS THAN PRISTINE CONDITIONS at any ski area. However, sometimes it simply IS what it IS.

Right now – today – there’s a few thinning trails here and there at every ski resort in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic with the exception of Appalachian Ski Area in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. That IS a fact. Whether one resort or another likes or dislikes that fact – that is a fact.

However it is ALSO a fact that the best conditions of all of the ski areas in the region (outside of App) will be found at Wisp Resort in Maryland and all of the West Virginia ski areas. Whether I or any of the rest of the ski areas like that – THAT is a fact. The resorts in Virginia and Tennessee are fighting it a little bit right now with pretty good to very good conditions – but more in the way of thin coverage and some bare spots that some resorts are not reporting today.

In North Carolina, App has the best conditions as mentioned but Sugar Mountain is impressing the heck of us with very, very nice conditions and very little in the way of any thin coverage areas – and no bare spots to mention. Ditto that for Cataloochee. Wolf Ridge looks good but maybe a notch down on the "conditions rating". All of these resorts look good going into the last of the long, three day weekends of the season (President’s Day).

Ski Beech in North Carolina looks O-K-A-Y, but they have quite a bit of thin coverage and more than a few bare areas. We don’t like reporting that, but facts are facts.

I’d sum things up TODAY to say that the ski resorts in West Virginia and Maryland all have 98% of their terrain in very nice shape with a little thin coverage (only 2% people!) and no bare spots worth mentioning. The Virginia ski areas are in good shape but they are probably closer to 92-94% of nice terrain with a few more thin areas and some bare spots with the exception of Bryce Resort which has a notch better conditions. All pretty good though.

Tennessee’s Ober Gatlinburg needs some snowmaking but they are looking pretty good on 90% of their terrain with some thin coverage and some bare spots. Not bad though.

All of the ski areas in North Carolina are looking really in the 95% range as far as good terrain with Appalachian showing nothing in the way of thin coverage or any bare spots (100%). Cataloochee and Sugar have to be in the 98% area with only 2% thinning and no bare spots worth mentioning. Wolf is probably closer to 94% or so. Ski Beech is fighting the conditions the worst with maybe a 85% rating. They have plenty of good skiable terrain but quite a bit of thin coverage and quite a few bare areas in the midst of some trails. They will make it through this mild stretch in better shape than they have in some previous seasons, but they could use some snowmaking in a big way.

So while ALL of the region’s ski areas are in pretty good to very good shape – those in West Virginia and Maryland are in slightly better shape than the rest. Facts are facts.


High winds have forced Snowshoe Mountain to drop 21 trails from being open today. They are open with 39 trails right now. Laura Parquette writes, "Due to high winds, only the Powdermonkey and Powderridge lifts will be running at the Snowshoe area. This will cause several slope closures. Please pay attention to Snowshoe personnel and signage. We encourage guests to utilize the Silver Creek area, which is less affected by the winds and will have all lifts running as scheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate you cooperation."

She added, "The flakes are flying again at Snowshoe Mountain! We have received a trace amount of snowfall this morning with snow showers likely all day. Temperatures have also dropped into the 30’s where they will remain for the foreseeable future, which means our expert snowmaking crew is back in business! Although our base continues to be in excellent condition, any thinning spots will be taken care of before the long weekend. Mother Nature might lend us a helping hand as well, with the chance for snow on both Saturday and Sunday! With all 60 slopes open and still a month and a half of skiing and riding to enjoy, Snowshoe is the place to get that big mountain experience that’s only a car drive away. There is still some availability for the Holiday Weekend, so book today! Don’t forget to take advantage of our Third Night Free offer that expires tomorrow. Call 1-877-441-4FUN to make your reservation now! *Please be aware that Slaymaker will be closed from 6:30-8PM for employee racing."

You heard her!

Canaan Valley dropped eight trails from where they were on Wednesday. They are getting some strong winds and light snow right now, so perhaps that affected their openings.

It is windy elsewhere but most of the other ski areas are running close to where they were on Wednesday as per trail offerings.


While the ski areas in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina could use the snowmaking ops a little more than those in WV and MD, they will have to wait a little longer than those ski areas in West Virginia and Maryland for the colder, snowmaking temps to arrive.

Resorts in West Virginia and Maryland are reporting some light snow already flying there this morning and the temperature is expected to drop to 19° tonight at Snowshoe and a notch or so up around Canaan, Timberline and Wisp. The temps are expected to be around 31° in most of the rest of the ski areas southward and that may or may not make it possible to make snow for those resorts into VA, NC and TN.


Sunday night the temperatures are forecasted to drop to 25° with some natural snow in the mix as well! Monday looks terrific with highs in the mid 30s and lows in the 20° range (more snowmaking!). There’s some more wintry weather forecasted for the middle of next week with continuing colder temperatures. According to all of our meteorological friends, after the mid-week cold and a little snow…things will get snowier and even colder for next Thursday into Friday of next week.

So we’re going to have to deal with what we have in the way of snow and conditions right now for another couple of days.

<Anyone see any thin areas here? We didn’t think so!

Appalachian Ski Mountain looks in GREAT SHAPE! They are perfectly groomed this morning and 100% open with near perfect conditions! Look for some soft snow but simply great conditions despite the weather of late. If you have a trip planned to App for this President’s Day weekend you are in for a treat.

Cataloochee Ski Area looks VERY NICE as well this morning! They have all 14 trails open and they will be in very nice shape going into the Holiday weekend. Those traveling to Maggie Valley and Cataloochee will be pleasantly surprised as to how nice things are there. They bottomed out at 36° this morning and they are hoping to make snow Thursday night but it will be close. They are in very nice shape though. 

<Sugar is impressing us with very nice conditions despite the weather!

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is the largest ski area in North Carolina with 115 acres of skiable terrain (20 acres more than the closest competitor). Despite the mild weather of late they are simply in VERY, VERY NICE shape with no bare spots and only a spot or two of thin coverage. They simply look m-a-r-v-e-l-o-u-s this morning.

They are 100% open with all 20 trails and one look at the LIVE cam will tell you that you want to go hit this mountain. Travelers will be well pleased with conditions for this weekend. Tubing’s open, skating is open. They look really, really nice. Expect soft snow, loose gran – but very nice coverage.

Wolf Ridge Resort is still holding on with 10 trails and calling it "wet granular" conditions. We watched the snow groomers pushing A LOT of soft snow around this morning and Wolf looks fine for this weekend. They have some thinning areas, but there’s PLENTY of snow to push around and they will have a nice product for the weekend. The sides are really creeping in along the trails, but there’s plenty of good terrain and no bare areas. They are reporting "excellent conditions" but it’s not excellent. It is GOOD THOUGH!

We mentioned that Beech was "fighting it". Yesterday, we received a few emails from a couple of people who were heading up for this weekend and probably the craziest email came from Jeff S of Atlanta, who wrote, "I see from this morning’s news that you posted some good pictures of some of the ski slopes but when you put pictures up for Beech Mountain you used a bad one. Why would you do that? Beech is probably in as good a shape as Sugar. Sign me ‘disappointed in your reporting’."

We actually got three emails within the last 24 hours that sort of related to that one. I want to quickly add though that we are in pretty constant contact with the guys up at Ski Beech this season and to their credit, THEY are dealing with what they have right now – the best that they can – but THEY are not complaining about our reporting. Here’s is what we posted on Wednesday for Ski Beech:

"Beech is hurting a bit. This AM shot of where Upper and Lower Shawneehaw merge looks pretty worn and in need of some snow making temps. Unfortunately Ski Beech is looking the worst of the bunch right now. While Appalachian, Cataloochee, Sugar and Wolf Ridge all get "8’s to 10’s" on our Base Scale right now, we’re grading Beech’s out to a "7". You can check the SLOPE REPORT page for how we grade all surfaces, but a "7" is good terrain, good coverage, but definately some thin coverage areas and more than a few bare spots. We watched live as Beech was grooming Upper Shawneehaw this morning and they will no doubt make things better for the first half day or so. Beech still looks pretty good, but they need the snowmaking temps to return a bit moreso than the others."

We added, "If you’re headed to Ski Beech, keep your plans in tact. There’s plenty of skiable terrain. Most of Upper and Lower Shawneehaw looks fine; the base of the mountain is in good shape; Robbins Run and White Lightning look pretty good, and while there are some widespread bare areas and thinning coverage…you don’t ski those anyway. Go have fun."

In another post we have alluded that Ski Beech had problems with limited snowmaking capacity due to the loss of a third compressor or pump. They got that remedied, but at the tail end of the last cold outbreak. So they only had a couple of days to make the kind of snow they wanted. They did a great job of getting Southern Star and White Lightning open with that additional pump, but it was not enough to really carry them through this last week and change of milder temps. If they had it to do over again, they probably would have made four feet of snow on the Shawneehaw trails. However to tell you the way it is right now – had they done that people would have been griping about Beech only having five trails open.

Having said all the above we have to add a couple of comments: First, ALL we do here is report what the conditions ARE at all of the resorts. We don’t show favorites (although we have them) and we tell you guys what to expect so that YOU can make informed decisions. For the most part we don’t talk "marketing-speak". We report to our readers JUST WHAT WE’D WANT TO KNOW before we would head up to the mountains. With that in mind, we didn’t pick GOOD PHOTOS of other mountains and find the worst one we could for Ski Beech. We posted photos showing what you’ll see when you get to each. Unfortunately right now Beech isn’t looking pretty. I’m a fan of Beech and I like the direction that the "new regime" is taking. Trust me they are making noise and headed in a good direction. They need a little good luck to go there way, but they are doing a decent job with what they have.

Watch the LIVE CAMS and when this next cold burst of weather hits Sunday night you will see some massive clouds of snowmaking at Ski Beech. Sure, they could use some more snowmaking guns and machinery, but they will do fine with what they have right now. By Tuesday of next week Beech will look great. 

Right now – headed into this weekend, they are not in great shape. They will get by and they DO have some decent terrain to hit. The bottom of the mountain looks pretty good. They were grooming some of the thin areas there and the bottom looks pretty good.

The middle of Lower Shawneehaw looks a little thin, but really pretty good and as you can see Robbins Run looks pretty good. Ditto the bottom of Southern Star and White Lightning.

Now if we were into "marketing speak" we could simply post a pretty image and tell you guys something like this, "Great Weekend! The entire front of the mountain is open this week! We’ve got some great weather today with plenty of sunshine. Come on up, the mountain is in great shape!" 

<Ski Beech looks okay, but a little thin at the bottom of Upper Shawneehaw

We could also post up a ski report with no mention of thin coverage or bare spots. However, the hoards of people that visit this website every day tell us that they want the facts.
The FACTS are that Ski Beech has plenty of good, skiable terrain on which to ride right now and they have 12 trails open. However it is also a fact that they have quite a fair amount of thin coverage areas and bare spots. 


SkiBeech showing some wear at the beginning of Lower Shawneehaw from the lift down.>

Our recommendation to all coming this weekend? Come on up. You will enjoy yourself. There’s lots of good terrain to hit and you’ll have some fun on the slopes. For the few of you who want to get your ski report from other sources that are touting base depths from 30-60" and 12 trails open at Beech with no mention of thin coverage or bare spots – go for it. You’re STILL going to have to dodge a few when you get here. Just because some resources don’t mention them – doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Go enjoy your day on the slopes today! Thankfully COLD is headed our way. The President’s Day weekend is looking pretty good and next week looks great!

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

Previous Post
Some photos you simply HAVE to post! This one of Nik Hendrix from Charlotte, after a killer run through Cataloochee’s terrain park last weekend is one
Next Post
Conditions Look VERY NICE for the President’s Day Weekend!
Related Posts