Mild Week Ahead Prompts a Class in Perception 101 – again!

First Trax

According to all of the meteorologists we’re in the first of a four day, near record breaking mild up that will see highs near 67° on Tuesday and lows in the upper 40s until Thursday night throughout the Appalachian Mountains. Even the normally colder Snowshoe Mountain is looking at a high on Tuesday of near 65°.

Thankfully Friday night is looking like a snowmaking 30° mark for the Western North Carolina Mountains and 25° in Pocahontas County, WV. EVEN BETTER NEWS is the fact that we may see some snow and VERY COLD temps for this coming weekend! Highs in the 30s and lows in the mid 20s for both Saturday and Sunday in the Appalachians, and colder north!


Several times this early in the season I have touched on mistaken impressions and perceptions that are prevalent within the ski industry. To continue with that theme we cover the perception that ALL THE SNOW IS MELTING AND WILL BE GONE BY MID WEEK!

We received more emails than I care to count since Friday asking how long will this or that resort stay open because of disappearing snow? How long will the snow last with all that rain and mild weather? Those were just the most common questions.

Even the normally educated messageboard crowd got into the mix by predicting closures, etc. To defend them, there certainly will be some closures…but they stem more from either normal, seasonal mid-week schedules or failure to make snow earlier.

I knew this was coming when I glanced at the weather forecast for this week and saw some rain and temps in the 60s within it. One of the meteorologist that I was speaking with at a media event this past weekend even stated as if he knew what he was talking about, "Mike, I don’t think your North Carolina ski resorts will make it this week."

After I set his poor, misinformed self straight, I took him out and locked him in the trunk of his car and that’s the last I’ve seen or heard from him. (Okay I made that part up, but I allowed myself the pleasure of visualizing the entire procedure!)

Knowing that the flood of emails would come asking about all the snow melting, I took it upon myself to actually document on the ski report how much the base drops after a rainy or mild day. So let’s have a look at some of the results from two days worth of foggy, rainy and/or mild temps:

Snowshoe Mountain – They pushed some snow around overnight and still is showing a base of 18-30" and 18 trails operated and that is after a foggy weekend and some moderate rain that fell on Sunday. Laura Parquette wrote, "It’s another great day at Snowshoe Mountain! We continue to have some of the best open terrain in the region. Last week’s storm that dumped over a foot and a half of powder on the slopes really made a difference, and we continue to have 18 trials and 4 lifts open. This week we kick off our adventure activities, with snowmobile and snowcat tours. As the holidays near, the excitement at Snowshoe grows. It has already been a great season, and there’s so much more to look forward to. Silver Creek’s projected opening is less than a week away, and that means more room to make the perfect turn, and NIGHT SKIING! Also expected in the next few weeks is the ribbon cutting on our three new trails. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, they should be open for skiing and riding before Christmas."

How’s THAT for smashing a mistaken perception? Did you catch the fact that they are doing snowmobile and snowcat tours?

Wisp Resort – The Maryland based resort reports that they are MAKING SNOW this morning with temps around 34°. The live webcams show some nice conditions. If you’re making snow, you’re not LOSING base are you? Way to pay attention class.

Appalachian Ski Mountain – STILL HAS a base of 24-36" and that is AFTER a drop of 6" in the last two days!

Sugar Mountain – STILL has a base of 6-30" after a drop of 8" over the last 2 days. TOne look at the live cameras will tell you that they will make it through the week. Gunther and his talented, pro-active snowmakers and grooming crew have fought the marginal weather so far to ski un-interrupted since November 4th. While there has been probably two days that they were in pretty bad shape, they have won the fight thus far. Congratulations to THEM and their season pass holders.

So if you look at the numbers and figure a drop of 2-4" per day throughout this week, the resorts that are open, will remain open. The snow will NOT be all gone…and the snowguns will crank up again.

Here’s some other news…

Timberline Resort is closed til the weekend. One look at their webcam tells you they have plenty of snow, but they are protecting it a bit and looking to make snow and open this weekend…and build base whenever possible for the Holiday period.

Cataloochee is CLOSED on Mondays (normal stuff) but will reopen Tuesday with more than 20" of base.


Hawksnest is CLOSED ALL WEEK and will reopen Friday, December 14th at 12:30pm.

Ski Beech is CLOSED ALL WEEK. Gil Adams of Beech writes, "On Friday, we began our 40th season of skiing on Beech Mountain, and those of us who went out on the hill enjoyed a good day, and night, of skiing. It was good to be back on the slopes. After the day session on Sunday, we closed our slopes until next weekend. Upper and Lower Shawneehaw have a good amount of snow, but there are some places on Freestyle that we would like to have more snow. We will be ready to start our snowmaking again as soon the temperatures fall as forecasted next week, and we hope to see you out on the slopes for the weekend."

Wolf Ridge – They write, "After a great opening weekend, we will be closed for the upcoming week. Conditions permitting we will reopen Saturday 12-15-07. Stay tuned for more info!"

Until Next Time…Send your comments, photos and videos to: [email protected]  

Also visit  for more news from the rest of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic.

See You On The Slopes!

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This shot wasn’t taken back in the 50’s but it was shot with a nice effect in late November at Appalachian Ski Mountain by Witt Graham
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Cataloochee Trail Report for December 8, 2007 by Wayne Cash
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