First Trax

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I’ve been vacationing at Snowshoe for the last six days and since Sunday afternoon the snowguns have been blasting away. That’s 60+ hours straight that the temps have stayed below freezing and they are still there this morning and temps are forecasted to nosedive down to 7° this evening.  Most of the ski areas in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic have not had the benefit of those kinds of temperatures, with only Beech and Sugar having been able to make snow Tuesday morning. (Timberline in West Virginia did as well.)

However, FINALLY we’re starting to see the cold temps really invading the rest of the mountain ski areas and that means more snowmaking and more slope openings!


David Vance gave me a chuckle this morning. David publishes Canaan Valley’s snow report each morning and he sent the first one to me at 6:14am and then about fifteen minutes later "RECALLED" his earlier report and updated it with a new one…because it was now SNOWING!

Some significant snowfall is expected in the Maryland and West Virginia mountains with some dustings elsewhere. The COLD AIR is also big news because ALL of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas will see frigid temps tonight as temps fall all day long and that is great news.

The NOT SO GREAT NEWS is that it will be windy as H-E- double hockey sticks!


Wind will be the big news story for today even though it accompanies some much needed cold air for the ski areas into Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina that have not seen snowmaking temps lately. Thankfully today that will happen as temps will drop low enough across all of the ski area mountains.

The winds will be HUGE though with sustained winds across some areas 35-40 mph with gusts 50-60 mph. Combined with the cold temps, we’ll see some wind chill values in the minus 10° range and colder.

Some of the ski areas will also get some significant snows as perhaps 6-8" of snow will fall across West Virginia and Maryland.

As I am posting this report at 8am it is SNOWING VERY HEAVY – almost blizzard like snow – here at Snowshoe Mountain. It’s snowing across much of the northern tier of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic and that will make for some sweet conditions…if you can fight the winds.

If you’re about on the slopes today, wrap up, wear layers, and make sure that you cover all exposed skin.

Here’s today tour: Enjoy the Snow!

Wisp Resort – 23° low – Wisp will offer 23 trails today and they made a little snow overnight as they upped their base depth. Wisp also has the mountain coaster and snow tubing park open. They did post that the strong winds might effect some ski ops for today. 3-5" of snow is expected!

Snowshoe Mountain – 32° low – Temps AND SNOW are already falling as at 8:27am it is "puking snow" as some of our messageboard crew would say. Snowshoe is expecting 5-6" of snow today with additional accumulations expected tonight and again Friday and Saturday! Snowshoe has 51 trails open today. Dress warn as wind chills will be in the minus 5° range or lower!

Canaan Valley – 34° low and dropping already to 25° as of this post – It is snowing at Canaan and they will offer 10 trails and ice skating and tubing open as well.

Timberline Resort – It is snowing and they will be open with at least 21 trails today. They haven’t updated their report just yet, but expect great conditions other than the high winds.

Winterplace Resort – 36° low – They were able to open another trail today and now offer 19 trails, and tubing park as well. Winterplace is expecting some light snow today as well.

Bryce Resort – They were not able to make snow but are looking pretty good with 7 of 8 trails open and tubing as well.

Massanutten Resort is reporting 40° this morning but the cold air is on the way! Mass will offer 8 trails, both terrain parks and tubing for today.

Wintergreen Resort was not able to make snow but they have the same 6 trails open and Anne Marie Jones wrote, "Snowmaking weather arrives throughout the day today and is back in full force New Years Day! You can bet we will be making snow every chance we can to improve conditions and add terrain. Both Tequila and Sunrise should re-open Saturday and might open as early as Friday. Once the cold arrives, it is forecasted to hang around for a while. The cold should allow us to open more terrain very quickly. The Highlands and Terrain Park are at the top of our to-do list and should open before next weekend!"

Ober Gatlinburg – 40° low – They are looking forward to the snowmaking temps that will return tonight but they will offer 4 trails and ice skating today. There are some areas of thin coverage.

Ski Beech – 28° low – They are building base with two days of intermittent snowmaking. The great news is that they are open to the top again with 5 trails. Ryan Costin posted, "Snow making is in progress, and we are re-opening Upper Shawneehaw. The forecast is good for continued snow making with several days of cold weather starting on New Year’s Eve. We are looking forward to a change in the weather pattern so that we can open more terrain as soon as possible."

Beech offers ice skating today at noon and there’s a New year’s Eve party in the Beech Tree.

Sugar Mountain – 26° low – They are making snow as well and offer the same 11 trails for today. They have 3 lanes of tubing open and ice skating as well. Sugar also has a torchlight parade tonight to celebrate New Years. There will be fireworks…and some great terrain to ski on!

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 35° low – No Snowmaking – They are in very good shape though with 8 of 10 trails open. Both terrain parks and ice skating is open as well and App has some great fireworks and a torchlight parade. Drew Stanley posted, "Join us for New Year’s Eve and ring in 2009 in style! Fireworks, torchlight skiing and more. Moonlight ice skating from 10 pm to midnight. Breakfast available from 9pm to midnight."

Editor’s Note: If you guys could get us some photos or video of that, it would be great!

Cataloochee Ski Area – 31° low – No Snowmaking – They are holding their own despite the lack of snowmaking temps. They will have 5 trails open for skiing and riding Wednesday and the tubing park is open as well. Tammy Brown summed up our disappointment about the colder temps that were expected to come in last night by saying, "The colder weather did not come in as quickly as anticipated but temperatures are slated to drop during the day on Wednesday with a low on New Year’s Eve in the teens and snowmaking weather is in the forecast for the rest of the upcoming week with a possibility of some natural snowfall on Friday! We will begin to make snow as quickly as the temperatures allow in an effort to capture the colder weather and maximize snowmaking to add to our current base depth and open additional terrain as quickly as possible.

On Wednesday, we will be skiing on five slopes, from midstation down, Intermediate Lower Omigosh serviced by the Omigosh Double Chairlift, Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill serviced by the Easy Way Triple Chairlift, Wolf Creek Hollow Ski School Area serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor Lift and Beginner’s Luck Learning Area serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor Lift on a base of 14-50” and a machine worked surface."

Wolf Ridge has not updated a report for 3 days now, but they look pretty good via their webcam and should be offering 6 trails to ski and ride on for day and night skiing and we understand that tubing is open as well.

Hawksnest Tubing Park – Lenny Cottom wrote, "Today will be a windy day. If the wind gusts stay above 40 mph then we may be forced to close for the day or for just a few sessions. Please call us before traveling to the resort today to check conditions. If you purchased your tickets online for a session today and the resort closes, we will transfer your tickets to another day or refund your money. Please call us when you decide.

The good news is the wind is bringing some cold air for snowmaking. Hopefully, we will be able to open more lanes in the next day or two. Snowmaking will resume when wind and temperatures allow."

SO HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS TODAY…and be thankful that some colder air is on the way…and that means even more terrain should be opening soon.

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

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