Keep Those Reservations – Here’s Why!

First Trax

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Holiday Season begins today at most of the ski areas…and that means that all of the ski resorts are OPEN and ready to play. Hawksnest and Cataloochee are open today. Up to now they had been on an early season schedule and that meant being closed today.  They are now open on their regular season schedule.

One look at the calendar tells us that we should be looking at more terrain open and more pristine conditions. A look at the slopes says something somewhat different. We’re looking at conditions at most of the resorts that resembles very early season (or in some cases – Spring) conditions.

Last night we were confronted with 480 emails and this morning another 216 and the main subject was related closely to: “I have a trip planned for xx/xx/xx and I was wondering if we should be cancelling our trip? Can you help us?”

This is the kind of times that you guys have come to depend on us to provide real answers and guidance. Let’s see if we can help.

The GOOD news is that the snow on the slopes is holding up pretty well. We were out of town til late after afternoon on Sunday, but drove by the entrance to Sugar and things looked pretty decent from the highway. Trails reports were submitted as well and all are reporting that conditions are remarkably good despite the sustained mild weather.

Some of the photos and live cams are showing some discoloration in the snow, which means that thin coverage and bare spots aren’t far away – but as of right now…things are holding up. (Check out the front Sugar, App, Beech and Hawksnest cams via You’ll see that conditions are quite nice with no thin coverage noticeable.

Let’s get some negative news out of the way before we continue.  Sapphire Valley has not updated their website as of this morning and they are showing the resort as open.  They are not open this morning.  Due to the milder weather down there, they have been forced to close until snowmaking can be done.

Cold Weather Needed – Apply TODAY!

The Southeast Ski Resorts are interviewing for a replacement for Old Man Winter. You MUST able to provide cold enough temperatures to allow for snowmaking. Some experience as a snowmaker would be great but not necessary. Ability to provide around the clock snowmaking temps from November 15-April 1st each ski season is a requirement. Ski resorts are willing to compensate NEW MAN (or woman) WINTER with a minimum of 20% of their gross revenue seasonally. (Willing to negotiate if you’re really COLD HEARTED and can deliver 150% of past seasonal natural snows.)  APPLY IMMEDIATELY as the OLD MAN WINTER is obviously washed up.

Temperatures this morning across the Southeast were depressing. These readings were taken at 8am:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 49°
Hawksnest – 46°
Ski Beech – 42°
Sugar Mountain – 44°
Massanutten – 40°
Wintergreen – 51°
Canaan Valley – 52°
Snowshoe Mountain – 48°
Wisp Resort – 40°

Those were LOWS and highs are expected to be back in the 50s and 60s across the region for Monday. We were speaking with a few of the mountain ops people this morning before writing this morning update and let’s just say that the mood is not bright and cheerful across the region. Upbeat – yes; hopeful – yep…but concerned, anxious and frustrated could also be thrown in.

Why so glum? The obvious answer is that we are fast approaching the all-important Christmas-New Year Holiday week and we’d all like to see some more cold and snow in the forecast.  Cold means snowmaking and without it the slopes are simply not going to be dressed in the kind of white, pristine blanket of snow that we all want to see when we’re spending our hard-earned cash. One resort manager stated, “We’re all keeping an eye on the weather and this week isn’t looking as cold as it was looking just a day or two ago. We really need some cold to maintain what we have.”

Meteorologist Marcus Lynch updated the NC and Southeast Weather update for this week and it’s not real, skier friendly. Ray Russell posted his morning update for the High Country this morning and it’s not conducive to putting the snowmakers back to work either. Things are slightly better further north into the West Virginia ski areas…but not much.

Here’s the breakdown as we see it via numerous weather services.

The High Country of North Carolina, into Virginia: Ray Russell says that we’re probably not going to see snowmaking temps this week unless they can make snow Tuesday and Wednesday night when he predicts that temps to drop down to around 32°. His forecast also calls for showers of underdeveloped snow (rain) will hit Thursday night and Friday.

We didn’t like that forecast so we’re hoping that Ray simply has a computer virus and that his numbers are all wrong.  Meteorologist Marcus Lynch’s numbers aren’t much more resort-friendly so we’re going to thank Marcus for his continued input and look further. We checked in over at WJHL in Johnson City and their forecast looks promising – lows Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday nights all show a nice, snowmaking friendly low in the 25-27° range. The National Weather Service forecast for the region also looks somewhat colder than the other forecasters and we can only hope that it is accurate.

The National Weather Service is forecasting lows Tuesday and Wednesday night in the 25° range.  That would be very welcome news to all ski resort operators in North Carolina and into Virginia.  If we can get a little snowmaking in then conditions will be okay to even handle a little light rain on Friday – which is the forecast right now. Snowmaking Sunday night would be nice as well…and that should mean that conditions for Christmas Monday-Tuesday should be rather nice.  Don’t expect a ton of terrain opening up.  Look for about what we have right now.  More about that in a moment.

Let’s Look at Regions North –

Areas into West Virginia and Western Maryland which includes Snowshoe, Timberline, Canaan Valley, Winterplace and Wisp Resorts should get in some snowmaking Monday Night as temps are expected to drop into the 29° range. Tuesday’s high should be only in the 30s and that could mean snowmaking nearly around the clock for about 24-48 hours. Tuesday night’s lows could be in the teens and low 20s and Wednesday’s high of 38° should keep the snowguns running a lot of the time. Then things go squirrely for a few days with a 40-60% chance of rain Thursday night and Friday. Sunday looks chilly again…so the call here is that conditions will be better than they are right now and honestly they are pretty good right now!

Since this novella is supposed to be answering all of your Holiday travel concerns; here’s our take. Remember that we are first and foremost here to provide our visitors with the answers they need to make informed decisions. With that in mind – our call is that you guys should KEEP your reservations…and keep your chins up.

It is our educated opinion that conditions will be somewhat improved over what they are right now.  One look around the region at the Photos of the Day and Live Cams, etc will show you that the conditions right now are pretty decent.  We’ll see some fluctuations in conditions this week, but with some snowmaking in the forecast…things should be better by the first of next week when Holiday Season kicks into high gear.

Don’t Trust Long-Range Forecasts –

We’ve received a ton of emails and messageboard posts from people who are sending us long range forecasts that are showing cold and snowy periods into the 26th of December and beyond. You don’t know HOW MUCH we want that kind of forecast.  However forecasts outside of 5 days are always based NOT on what the actual forecast might be – but totally on historical data.  In other words if you take the long-range forecast on for the region…that forecast outside of the first four days is based on what a NORMAL high and low would be.  We’re hopeful and many of our meteorologist buddies are telling us that things might be falling into place to get us into a more normal weather pattern beginning with a day or two after Christmas.

So hang in there, keep checking our updates, weather content and PRAY FOR COLD!

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For more information about the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic visit


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