Snow Maintenance and Grooming Are All-Important right now… The Snow Whales Above were made just five days ago at Wisp Report. Now, the task of pushing the snow around to maintain slope quality is at hand.
Check the SNOW REPORT for all of the slope openings and more.
The top news around this time of year is usually the record crowds that are dotting the slopes of the region for this always busy, four-day-MLK weekend. It has been a brisk, skier-visit weekend and traffic is off to some degree, but that isn’t the top news of the day. That has to be the announcement that was shared late on Saturday by Cataloochee Ski Area Presisent, Chris Bates as to why Cataloochee Ski Area had not been making snow during some of this past week’s cold snap.
You can read the entire letter here.
Evidently Chris and his mountain ops peeps have been fielding a fair amount of questions as to why the snowguns have not been firing during ALL of the opportunities to make snow over the stretch of 4-5 days that lasted through this past Monday.
To be honest, I had not really noticed that Cat had missed many days or nights where they COULD have made snow. We monitor temperatures for all of the ski resorts and there HAVE been a few day or nights where we noticed numerous ski areas not making snow – but we figured that perhaps it was just too borderline and/or wet-bulb temps didn’t cooperate. This season has also been one where every short-lived cold snap has been followed by a bit of rain or a stretch of mild days. So we’ve figured that some ski areas would opt not to make snow during some of those borderline periods.
However, Cataloochee has evidently not been making snow at EVERY opportunity due to a shortage of water.
Kenny Griffin and I were at Cataloochee Ski Area for OPENING DAY this season and that date corresponded with all of the wildfires that were dotting Western North Carolina. As I was driving back from Cataloochee (down I-40) I noticed that all of those interstate-electric-signs were reporting the drought conditions in Haywood County.
To be honest, I am now wondering if some other ski areas have been affected by the same water shortages. Then again…I really think that we’ve seen most every ski area making snow ANYTIME the temps have been accommodating with perhaps only one or two exceptions.
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY…
Saturday was really a decent weather day across the North Carolina mountain resorts and a little damp with very light rain across Virginia and West Virginia resorts. We did a tour of all of the LIVE CAMS at 2pm on Saturday and reported what we saw at that time.
From what we could tell, things were really a bit more “swamped busy” at the North Carolina resorts where things were drier. Resorts into VA, WV and Maryland were definitely busy, but noticeably somewhat affected by the weather.
One of my good friends was at Sugar Mountain on Saturday and he reported, “Man, Sugar’s overflow parking lot on Hwy 184 was FULL on Saturday. So they were about as busy as I’ve ever seen them.”
I had speculated about that yesterday. Ask and ye shall receive, I guess.
WILD TEMPERATURES AND DIMINISHING BASE DEPTHS…
For the second day in a row we are seeing some of the craziest and widest temperature variances from resorts north-to-south as we have ever seen. There is a difference of 39.7° between the 26° at Oglebay in West Virginia and the 65.7° at Sapphire Valley this morning.
Even if you take out Sapphire Valley, which is located in the southern and western-most part of the state of North Carolina – we’d still have a 26° difference from Wisp Resort in Maryland to Wolf Ridge and Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina.
I haven’t reported much about base depths this season at all – mostly because base depths are the LEAST important stat on every ski resort. As Joe Stevens has said many times, “Anything more than six inches on the slopes is just gravy.”
About the only thing you need to pay attention to regarding base depths is when ski areas start including “thin coverage” or “thin areas” on the reports. Right now, only Omni Homestead is reporting thin coverage right now. However, we are seeing some evidence of thinning coverage at other ski areas.
We’re still seeing another THIRTEEN DAYS without snowmaking temperatures or snow – so things WILL continue to be a challenge for ski areas to maintain slope quality. The good news is that most of the ski areas SHOULD be able to maintain decent open terrain through the stretch.
Here are the morning temps across the region AND we’ve included the base depths for those ski areas that actually alter their snow reporting daily below that.
Temps this morning:
26° – Oglebay in WV
28° – Wisp Resort
30° – Timberline Resort
31° – Canaan Valley Resort
32° – Snowshoe
35° – Wintergreen Resort
37° – Massanutten Resort
37.4° – Bryce Resort
39° – Winterplace Resort
41° – Omni Resort
44° – Beech Mountain
45.4° – Sugar Mountain Resort
49° – Cataloochee Ski Area
50° – Appalachian
50.5° – Wolf Ridge
53.8° – Ober Gatlinburg
65.7° – Sapphire Valley
Base Depths Reported
36″ – Snowshoe Mountain
18-54″ – Beech Mountain Resort (dropped 2″ in last 24hrs.)
28-46″ – Appalachian Ski Mountain
15-50″ – Sugar Mountain Resort (dropped 8″ in last 24hrs.)
24-36″ – Wolf Ridge Resort
20-30″ – Ober Gatlinburg
32+” – Wintergreen Resort (dropped 4″ in last 24hrs.)
12-36″ – Canaan Valley Resort (dropped 12″ from max depth)
24-46″ – Timberline Resort (dropped 6″ off min depth)
26-50″ – Winterplace Resort (dropped 4-6″ off min & max depth)
“OLD MAN WINTER” AT CANAAN VALLEY RESORT
One of our readers saw where we included a screen capture of the huge, snow whale at Canaan Valley on Saturday – where the ski patrol had carved the face of old man winter into the snow. Micky Sponaugle of Canaan wrote in and also included a few more photos.
Micky wrote, “Glad you enjoyed the whale backs at Canaan. We’ve come to dub them “old man winter” each year. The old man’s perch is usually on top of the mountain or at mid-station from year to year but they blew such a huge whale at the bottom during last weeks cold snap (that one was created at the base).”
Here are some of the photos that he sent…. Click to ENLARGE!
LIVE CAMS ARE GREAT BUT WE NEED MORE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS FROM ALL RESORTS
I had the pleasure of hanging out with thirty or so of my best friends and family on Saturday and many of us are skiers and snowboarders. So the conversations with numerous of the group turned to the weather, the conditions, and pretty much “all things skiing”. One particular person brought up the subject of all of the webcams that we now promote that feature LIVE VIEWS of all of the ski areas. Obviously he was a fan, but he brought up and interesting point when he said, “There’s no question that the live cameras help to take the questions out of what the conditions look like at any of the ski resorts but I really miss how many photos I used to see posted nearly every day. I guess the live cameras have made it such that people just don’t think that photos are needed.”
I asked him if he followed ANY specific ski area or their Facebook content. He replied “no”. Interestingly I posed that question to others in attendance and they all stated that they didn’t have ONE single favorite ski area that they followed on Facebook.
My reason for asking about Social Media as that many ski areas put more emphasis in updating the social media content with photos and videos than their own websites.
Sure, the LIVE CAMS are awesome and they are valuable for being able to gain some measure of confidence about how the rest of the mountain might look in terms of ski conditions. However, with the advent and growth of these cameras – we’ve seen the huge decline in submitted photos from readers, etc.
Even the ski resorts themselves have gotten away from posting awesome photos and that is a shame when you consider how much more convenient it is these days to snap a high-rez photo or video. Everyone now has a professional quality, high-rez camera in their pockets on the slopes – in the form of their cell phone.
Back in our early days of SkiNC and SkiSoutheast we had perhaps 100+ people who would send DOZENS of photos every day. Occasionally one of our diehard readers would go the extra mile and carry a cumbersome video camera with them and shoot us a video. That was back when the videos were not of awesome quality and the internet speeds made all videos buffer. We’d still get a lot of them.
NOW, when photos and videos are so easy to shoot and post online…we’re seeing less. In fact, I’ve emailed ski resort ops from time to time about how every single one of them should be shooting and posting videos and photos. You can check out the Facebook pages of various resorts and some do better than others – but really only Snowshoe Mountain, Winterplace, Wintergreen and the West Virginia Department of Tourism does a great job of posting photos and videos across all formats (their websites, YouTube, Vimeo, Social Media, etc.)
Omni Homestead and Massanutten post something once or twice a season and the rest of the resorts are anywhere from NEARLY non-existent to nothing whatsoever.
Beech and other resorts posted often to their Facebook content…as shown in the recent video post.
Our Messageboard Crew STILL posts TRIP REPORTS from time to time and those often contain good photos…but even those are less frequent than in the past. You can visit the messageboard’s TRIP REPORT forums here.
I’ll have to talk with Kenny and our promotional team and maybe team up with the ski areas in an attempt to create/recreate on-snow reporting, photo and video submissions with some form of giveaway.
Additionally, the use of video to promote what’s happening and for putting smiling faces on camera is something that EVERY ski area should do EVERY WEEK (see Winterplace, Wintergreen and Snowshoe).
For the record – I am talking about the use of video and photos to promote recent quality of product ON their own websites. Obviously some are doing a pretty good job with Facebook posting and those get looked at and shared more than individual websites, but you would think that every resort would use every venue to promote themselves.
That’s enough griping for a day…
Here are just a few notables. Again, check the SNOW REPORT.
It’s Day 2 of Subaru WinterFest here at 4,848ft! Be sure to stop by the Village and enter to win some of the sweet new gear our friends from Subaru are dishing out. Partly cloudy skies should make for an excellent day to be out on the Mountain.
The Omni Homestead Snow sports Area is skiing and snowboarding on an average base of 34” with some thin spots in areas..We have 8 trails open with groomed frozen granular conditions and 2 lifts in operation.
Added a slope that was not open on Saturday. So they are doing pretty well with 21 of 24 trails open.
SOME PHOTOS WE THOUGHT WE’D SHARE TODAY!
We’ll have to start posting more daily! CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE!
That’s it for me today. Enjoy your day. Email me if have something to say – [email protected]