Make Hay While the Sun is Shining…

First Trax

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For you younger guys and gals that’s an old idiom that basically means "to do something while the situation or conditions are right." That idiom should be the battle cry for all of the ski area managers and snowmaking crews in North Carolina for today.

…and good gracious ARE THEY MAKING SOME SNOW!!!

Before jumping into the report I looked around at several of the webcams that we have setup and virtual CLOUDS of manmade snow is currently being blasted upon the slopes and trails at every resort that we looked at. The morning photo of the day is one showing the cloud at Appalachian Ski Mountain, but Beech’s and Sugar’s looked the same. One glance at the Extreme Snowboard and Ski Cam across the street from the entrance to Sugar Mountain shows a massive snowmaking effort being undertaken. The same is true at Wolf Ridge and although Cataloochee’s camera is terrible – you can see that they are cranking out some good snow. 

The combination of a bad, previous, two week spell of weather AND the forecast for the week ahead are forcing the resorts to "make hay while the sun shines". As forecasters predicted (particularly Ray Russell of, the temps crashed to sub-zero temps across the region, last night and snowmaking equipment fired up early Sunday morning and that effort has now continued nearly 24 hours as of this 8am report and that will make for some awesome conditions once the winds die down. COLD temps are in the forecast all day today and will dip back down to 10-12° tonight and remain cold enough to make snow deep into Tuesday – if not all day Tuesday and Tuesday night. Tomorrow is "iffy" right now as per snowmaking capabilities as temps are expected to rise to about 35° with a Tuesday night low of 33°.

So we’re now into about 24 hours of perfect snowmaking temps and it looks like resorts will have another 24-36 hours of around-the-clock snowmaking ops and then the snowmaking guns and fans will cease for the rest of this week as temps are forecasted to moderate into the 40s and 50s for all of the North Carolina mountains through at least Sunday. MAYBE they’ll be able to make more snow next Sunday night but that’s too far out to tell right now.

So you now know why we began this post with "Make Hay While the Sun is Shining…"

The current snowmaking campaign will no doubt provide some very nice conditions at all of the resorts in the state through the weekend, but it is somewhat doubtful that the resorts will be able to offer the perfect scenario of fully-open resorts. Beggars can’t be choosers, so we’ll take good snow and good conditions on whatever trails counts we can get – right?!?!

Appalachian Ski Mountain will be fully open by Christmas but for all the rest of the North Carolina ski areas – the scramble is to see how good a product that they can provide on as much terrain as possible. All of the resorts do a great job of that and you can bet that they are pouring on the snow in an effort to open as much terrain as possible for the Holiday crowds that are expected this week and weekend.


Some people have emailed us asking for weather forecasts and remember that we DO provide those on the front page of our websites, and while there is some mention of rain chances on Wednesday and again on Saturday – the forecasters are using the words "spotty showers" AND they are in the 30-40% variety so that means that there’s a good chance that we’ll see VERY LITTLE in the way of "under developed snow" during the week and that means that at least the majority of time we’ll be enjoying the great product that Wolf, Sugar, Beech, Sapphire, Cataloochee and Appalachian are working to provide.


That is the next, most asked question over the last 24 hours. The accurate answer is – Appalachian will have 10, Cataloochee will have 14, Ski Beech 15, Sugar will have 20 and Wolf Ridge will have 20.

Now, before I get a truckload of emails – that IS how many slopes those resorts "HAVE". As to how many slopes the resort will have "OPEN" – that is another answer. Bear in mind that we have NOTHING to do with what resorts open and all we can do is offer our opinion. With the amazing snowmaking effort that is ongoing right now, it is a safe bet that Appalachian will be 100% open by Wednesday. By the way App is reporting an INCREASE OF ELEVEN INCHES of manmade snow across their open terrain in the last 24 hours!!! That should give you an idea as to how sweet the conditions should be for mid week and forward through the weekend.

Cataloochee Ski Area added 5" of new manmade snow by 5pm on Sunday so it is likely that they are in the same area as App this morning. Cat added one more trail opening for today and should add more by Wednesday as well. Our guess? Probably 6 to 7 trails operating by Wednesday.

Hawksnest’s Tubing Park is closed on Monday for focused snowmaking but they plan to open Tuesday or Wednesday. (We’ll have the live cam updating prior to that.)

Sapphire Valley Ski Area has yet to open for the season, but that is not unusual. They typically don’t open until just days prior to Christmas. The weather has not cooperated with them, but they ARE making snow right now and will at least have the Tubing Hill open for this weekend, and perhaps one slope for skiing and snowboarding.

Ski Beech reports an additional 2" of manmade snow this morning. Ryan Costin and crew have shown an early proclivity to creating the optimum product on focused trails thus far this early in the season so we kind of expect that they will simply add "Upper Shawneehaw" to the open mix and that means 5 trails open for post Christmas skiing and snowboarding Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We wouldn’t rule out an effort to open Robbin’s Run (Upper and Lower) or perhaps Upper and Lower White Lightning – which would please guests. Our early guess? Five trails for this week and weekend, but Ryan and crew are working with what they have to open up more ASAP – so don’t be surprised if they are not able to add 2-4 open slopes to that mix.

Sugar Mountain added 6" of fresh, new, manmade snow in the last 24 hours so – GONE are the thin coverage areas or bare spots. Sugar will look S-W-E-E-T today. Gunther and crew have already shown that they can average opening a new trail a day with good snowmaking so we wouldn’t be surprised to see 13-14 trails open by Wednesday. They have 11 open for today and there is a virtual cloud rising above and around Sugar from their snowmaking efforts.

Wolf Ridge Resort – It was minus 2° overnight at the Mars Hill, Wolf Laurel resort and they have a cloud of manmade powder visible with their live cam as well. We have no clue as to what to expect over there for this week. Our guess? They probably offer 5-6 slopes for this week. We’ll try to get word from Orville or his crew and update this report. They’ve been very quiet over there this season and have had some difficulty in updating their daily reports. The snow was looking pretty darn good yesterday, despite the rains of last week so they may add a few open trails to the mix by Wednesday.


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