Let the “Healing” Begin – NC Ski Resorts Begin Making Snow!

First Trax

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It’s SNOWING around Beech and the Higher Elevations this morning AND snowmaking is in progress at several areas. The HIGH temp today across the mountains will be about what we’re already seeing and the falling temperatures will make for around the clock snowmaking beginning now and lasting for much of the next three days.

We’re a bit slow posting this morning because I had the basics of my morning report written and that all washed away with the moderate to heavy rains of last night and NOW the snowmaking temps that have ALREADY arrived this morning.

As of 8am, we toured the Live Cameras and received updates from around the region. While it’s still a bit too warm to make snow at Appalachian and Wolf Ridge – several other resorts have cranked up the snow guns and are blasting the slopes this morning. Cataloochee, Ski Beech, and Sugar are currently making snow and we just got off the phone with Rowe up there and he said that Duggin had just gone into the compressor house and expected that they’d be firing the guns in a bit.

One funny note – when Rowe answered the phone, I said, “Good morning Rowe, this is Mike with SkiNorthCarolina, how are you doing?” He said, “You’re with SkiNorthCarolina.com and you have to ask me how we’re doing?” He began laughing hard and of course I realized what he meant. Nobody within the ski resort industry in the state is “DOING” well!

We spoke with a contact at Wolf Ridge and they said that they are CLOSED despite the fact that their own website is reporting slopes open. The rains last night destroyed what was left of their base and they are now waiting to fire the snowguns. As of 8:43am it was cold enough, but reportedly the humidity was too high to begin just yet.

Thankfully, we’re now within the “healing” side of things and maybe beginning with today, we will at some point look back and be able to say that the “REAL” Ski Season for this year began on January 8th, 2007. Better late than never, right?

The forecast is predicting 2-5” of snow across the higher elevations that should fall through Tuesday evening. That and some primo snowmaking temps will make for a transformation of conditions unlike any we may have seen in the past. We’ve been talking with some frustrated snow makers out there and they have been chomping at the bit to deliver a knockout blow against Old Man Winter’s chin!

We posted an early snowmaking photo at Ski Beech this morning as the photo of the day. Check it out (enlarge it) and then check back here tomorrow…and again on Wednesday and you will not believe your own eyes!

Couple of Notes and Quotes:

There’s an old adage that says “If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his rear”, however if all this rain that we’ve had this month had come with cooperating cold temperatures…we’d have seen some massive snowfall. Some areas have seen as much as 4” of rain since January 1st and the forecast in some areas of the region received another inch of rain last evening.

Most sources say that you can roughly estimate 6.25” of snow per 1” of water/rain. Just imagine!

Hopefully we can keep the moisture in the forecast, and see the temps fall off for the rest of the season.

One of the most often asked questions of this past weekend was related to THE WEATHER. The upcoming MLK, four day weekend prompted a lot of inquiries that related to what to expect for the upcoming week and weekend. We have seemingly spent this entire season thus far – LOOKING AHEAD – at the weather because it has yet to provide consistent temps or natural snow. This next three days will provide some much needed snowmaking ops and even some nice, fever-creating snowfall. That’s great and skiing and riding will be sweet on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. After around the clock snowmaking from now through Wednesday, we will see a stoppage of snowmaking during the day on Thursday and if things hold true, we may get some snowmaking in Thursday night. Terrain will be limited to normal, early season stuff…but conditions will be great on Thursday and Friday.

There is a slight chance of showers for the weekend and into Monday. Right now it appears to be one of those hit and miss kind of things and according to the NWS it’s a 30% variety…so there’s a 70% it won’t right?

The cool thing is that the next day, Tuesday is when forecasters believe that the pattern of cold and snow will kick in and deliver more consistent cold temps. Winter may AT LAST be here and here to stay through the end of March.

Numerous people have emailed asking about HOW MUCH SNOW particular resorts can make. Again the MLK Holiday Weekend is prompting this question. After all since there’s NO SNOW on most slopes right now, it would be cool to know how much snow they can lay down and quickly! One reader asked, “Hi, We’ve been reading your website for many years now and have come to appreciate your honest answers to questions posed. My question to you now is, what are the snowmaking capabilities of Sugar Mountain? How much snow can they lay down and how fast can they do it? I know that it all depends on the weather and am not asking you for when they can do it. I see on the forecast that it is supposedly getting cold enough to make snow around Jan. 16 and we were just wondering what kind of snowmaking they had there. We are due to check in at Sugar Ski & Country on Jan. 21 and were wondering (if it does in fact get cold) if Big Red would have any chance of being open. Thank you for any advice you can give us on this subject, Emily.”

Emily’s question, like many we receive on this site, was specifically asking about Sugar Mountain’s capabilities. Sugar Mountain has the experience and system in place to blast the slopes such that in one day they can make enough snow to open a slope. Give them two days and you won’t recognize the place. Emily’s question asked about January 21st. By then, we have to believe that Big Red will be open.

We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating again – the snowmaking crews of the Southeast ARE THE BEST IN THE UNITED STATES. That is not an exaggeration, they HAVE to be because of where we are located in the country. Some resorts, like Wisp Resort in Maryland, have been visited by numerous countries around the world…just to see their system and how they are able to make snow at less than optimal conditions.

With some consistent cold…look for slopes to open every day or so…once the cold hits. Right now…look for the resorts to make snow in the primary terrain to get enough open for the Holiday crowd. Then after the first of NEXT WEEK, the weather patterns look to be falling into place to allow for more consistent Winter weather wherein we will finally see some more terrain opening!

Worst ever, Coldest ever, Warmest Ever…

We have received thousands of emails in the last week from people making claims that December 2006 was the worst or warmest ever on record. Actually that is not even close to being true. According to numerous sources covering the weather around the Southeast, many areas that include the ski areas of North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland actually just went through a December that was not even in the top ten warmest Decembers on record. One meteorologist from up in Pittsburg wrote us, “Hi Mike, we just released a report that it was the 18th warmest December on record. So, while it’s not exactly ideal winter weather, it’s not record setting warmth either. Keep the faith – there’s still a couple of solid months of potential winter ahead.”

Another source told us that a lot of people had been writing them about how Denver was experiencing the coldest and snowiest December on record. AGAIN, not close according to the NWS. December actually provided NORMAL temps for Denver and while it was snowy…it was not even a top ten snowiest December on record. Again…all about perceptions, huh?


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Until Next Time…


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For more information about the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic visit www.SkiSoutheast.com


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