Minus 16 Degrees at Snowshoe; 12 inches of Snow at Canaan and Timberline!

First Trax

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Awesome Conditions Everywhere!!!!

All of our weather peeps have been forecasting the coldest air in years to hit overnight last night and this morning, but they missed their forecasts just a bit!

IT’S EVEN COLDER THAN THEY WERE PREDICTING! I’ll tell you how cold it is this morning!

I have a one year old Husky/Shepherd mix (doesn’t everybody?) and he normally stays inside when we are home, but sleeps outside at night. Of course, last night we’d already planned for him to stay inside as temps were forecasted to drop to about 1° here in the NC mountains. We wanted to give him an opportunity to "relieve" himself for the night and opened the door and he normally just trots out and does his thing and then comes back and paws the door. Not last night! I opened the door and he trotted out and within two quick steps – stopped abruptly and turned back to look at me as if to say – "you’ve GOT to be kidding me!" I motioned for him to come back inside and he did so without ever "doing his thing". I expected him to wake me up in the middle of the night to do so, and that didn’t happen. You got the sense that he knew what the outside had to offer. So this morning as I am exiting the house I figured he’d be ready to burst and run out. Nope. He stuck his head out, saw his breath which is a bit unusual for a dog, and quickly withdrew into the warm confines of the den. (That guy’s got a huge bladder!)

For those that have not experienced what MINUS SIXTEEN DEGREES!!! does to you and everything around you, let me share some of the quicker observations, but before I do I’ll share some morning temperature observations at 8am:

Ski Beech – MINUS 11°
Sugar Mountain – MINUS 10.8°
Hawknest – MINUS 6.6°
My House – MINUS 2°
My Office – Plus 1°
Grandfather Mountain – MINUS 8°
Cataloochee – MINUS 2.9°

Massanutten Resort in Virginia – MINUS 4.3°
Wintergreen Resort – MINUS 7°

Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia – MINUS 16°
Timberline – MINUS 12.8°
Wisp Resort in Maryland – MINUS 8.4°

Add some breazy winds to those temps and you have some wind chills in the MINUS 40° BELOW ZERO and COLDER!

Now back to my story…

So if you’ve never experienced cold like that let me tell you that it creates some oddities. I remember back about fifteen years or so ago I was living up on Seven Devils when the natural temperature dropped to minus 12° and several times during that night my wife and I were awakened by something that sounded like either someone slapped the side of our home with a baseball bat – or that someone had fired a shotgun on our front deck. Each time I bolted out of bed I found nothing. After this happened a couple of times I stayed up peaking out the front windows when it happened again. BOOM! To my amazement, it was NOTHING. Nothing, that is, except the fact that at those kinds of temperatures the air pockets within the boards of the deck contract so much that it explodes! Literally explodes with a snap that sounds like a gun going off.

As I stepped onto my front deck this morning, I heard that same sound as one of the boards literally exploded. (For the record, the boards don’t explode…it just SOUNDS that way.) Maybe THAT’S why my dog didn’t want to go out this morning 😉

Anyway, another little oddity is the fact that you HAVE NOT LIVED until your nose hairs freeze. Okay, I know you’re all going ewwww! But that happens when going from 70° warmth to MINUS 2° and colder. I tell you something else; vehicles don’t like these kinds of temps. My truck fired right up, but my steering wheel was tight (squeaked a bit on turns); my shocks were stiff and made funny sounds going over bumps. Even the driveway seemed to complain about being driven on.

It is THAT cold out this morning!

As I rounded the curve before crossing the Sleepy Hollow Covered Bridge that spans the Watauga River I noticed that a good portion of the river was iced over. The river flows pretty good right now and that’s something I had not seen in a while.

Temps were forecasted to drop to maybe -8° at Snowshoe and perhaps -3° at Beech Mountain, but they definately exceeded that.

If you are traveling up today, be aware that the highs in the mountains of North Carolina are forecasted to be around 13-18° today (depending on elevation) and drop back to sub zero degree temperatures again tonight. The highs around some of the West Virginia and Maryland ski areas are forecasted to get to ZERO – maybe!

The weather gurus are all saying that we’re going to continue to see snowmaking cold temps through at least Thursday of next week and that means that we’ll all have the best ski conditions of the season for the foreseeable future!

So MLK Weekend will be HUGE; the week after will be awesome and things looks SWEET for the long range forecasting period on the slopes.

More snowmaking means more slope openings so let’s go see what’s open out there and do our quick tour of the region this morning:

Wisp Resort – minus 7° and they are reporting another 1" of new snow to add to their big total for January and 70" on the season. Wisp is in AWESOME shape and we want to give a shout out to Kelly Melang who has family up at Deep Creek. She and her family are hitting Wisp this weekend and she promised to get us some great pics of what should be bomber conditions up there.

Wisp will have 29 of 35 trails open and they only made snow on five trails overnight as they just have tons of snow right now. Their tubing hill is open, terrain park, mountain coaster and conditions should just simply be sweet!

Canaan Valley – minus 9° and 12" of snow in the last 24 hours! We reported on this yesterday, but Canaan and Timberline have seen 36.6" of snow in the last sixteen days now and you can only imagine how bomber the conditions have to be. They have 12 trails of 39 open but they will be opening more for the weekend.

Snowshoe Mountain – minus 16° this morning and they’re not expecting the high today to rise above ZERO! They also got another 2" of new snow and that takes them to 123" on the season! They are well ahead of pace to exceed their normal 180" of natural snow! We listen to our ski area contacts and we love it when they listen to us as well. Snowshoe is now reporting a SINGLE DIGIT AVERAGE BASE DEPTH of 40"! That is something that we have been advocating for a while and it’s cool to see Snowshoe moving into that mode. They now have 56 of 60 trails open with some AWESOME conditions! You have to check out the sweet video sent in by Snowshoe Producer, Ed Schneider. It’s on the front page of SkiSoutheast.com. Ed has the equipment and had a great eye for the powder!

Timberline Resort – minus 9° and 12" of snow in the last 24 hours! Timberline kicks it up another notch as they jump their open slope total to 24 of 37 trails for today! We’re going to try and get up with Jessica and the marketing crew at Timberline today as they are still under-reporting their seasonal natural snow total by nearly one and a half FEET! They are reporting 89 inches of snow on the season and they’ve officially seen 106.9" of snow! Conditions are awesome for this weekend! Lots of powder shots should be coming from Jessica, David Vance, Coop — somebody send me some sweet photos!

Winterplace Resort – 5° this morning and another 1" of natural is being reported. That gives Winterplace 42" on the season! They are also reporting that they will open more terrain this weekend, but they have already opened another couple of trails today to give them 21 of 28 trails, snow tubing and terrain park. Winterplace has one of the best snow tubing hills in the region and if you’re into tubing you should check it out! Winterplace will not be making snow during sessions today. Overnight snowmaking will be taking place.

Wintergreen Resort – 0° this morning. It is so great to see Wintergreen bounce back the way that they look this morning from just a week or so ago! They have not seen much in the way of natural snow this season (only 2" so far and a few dustings) but they have one of the best snowmaking systems on the planet and they now have a base of 30-50" of snow (that would be an average base of 40" (like Snowshoe’s) and they have opened 19 of 26 trails for today. Tubing is open as well as the Terrain Park. Anne Marie Jones informed us that they will open Upper Diamond Hill and the Progression Terrain Park today. They will get the advanced terrain park open for Saturday and the Sunday they will open Upper Wild Turkey and Big Acorn. According to Anne Marie they should be able to get Lower Cliffhanger open on Monday.

Bryce Resort – I kind of thought that Horst and Ryan might be getting "Hangover" open today. However not yet. They are still offering 7 of 8 trails open with their only black diamond – Hangover – still not operating. They do have snowtubing open as well.

Massanutten Resort – minus 2° this am and they are reporting a SINGLE DIGIT AVERAGE BASE DEPTH OF 36" and Steve Showalter has kicked it up a notch as Mass now has 13 of 14 trails open with only Lower Dixie not open. They offer 8 lanes of tubing and both terrain parks. Mass Transit, Yee-Ha, Upper Dixie and Dare all debut today.

Ober Gatlinburg – They have been a fair amount milder than most ski areas over the last couple of years, and though they are somewhat milder this morning, they STILL are experiencing TWO DEGREE temps this morning. They have 5 of 8 trails open and will turn the snowguns off at noon today! Ober added 11" of new, manmade powder in the last 24 hours!

Ski Beech – minus 13° and they added 4" of manmade overnight – Beech is still operating one pump down right now, but these cold temps are allowing some ideal snowmaking ops and Beech has got a nice cloud going over Robbins Run right now. They are reporting FIVE trails open, BUT Robbins will open today and that will give Beech its most open terrain of the season to date. They will have 7 of 15 trails open and you can expect them to focus on White Lightning next. Ryan Costin writes, "We will be opening Upper and Lower Robbins Run along with two more surface lifts. Our new full-featured Terrain Park will be set up on Powder Bowl on Saturday and remain there for the entire season. Ice Skating all weekend and come get warm next to our brand new Village Fire Pit. Live music in Beechtree Saturday Night from Soul Benefactor from 9pm-12am."

Be the first to ride Robbins Run this season and get us some photos and videos. Send them to [email protected]

No matter which angle you look at Beech this morning – it IS gorgeous. The snow looks VERY inviting and the grooming looks awesome.

Sugar Mountain – minus 10.8° this AM and they added 4" of manmade powder. Sugar also has opened three more trails and now have 17 open for the first time this season! High temperatures today will be around 10 degrees and lows tonight around 0 degrees! Snowmaking is currently in progress and will continue as long as conditions allow. Whoopdedoo, the Terrain Park, and the rest of Big Red open this morning! With cold weather and snow in the forecast for the next week, look for more slopes to open soon!

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 1° above this morning. They are always a bit warmer than the elevations around them over in Blowing Rock. They have already "warmed" to 7° above at 8:30am and are holding with 8 of 10 trails and ice skating today and tonight. We kind of thought that they might be ready to drop the ropes on Hard Core and Thin Slice but they must be holding off for one more day of focused snowmaking and maybe open it for Saturday’s crowd. App reports that the cold temps allowed them to add 6" of new manmade snow and they now have a base of 60-86"!

Cataloochee Ski Area – minus 2.9° and they too added 6" of new, manmade snow. They also add another open trail today and now have 12 of 14 trails open. They also have terrain features and snow tubing open. Tammy Brown reports, "Please note that even with the colder temperatures continuing throughout the day, we will not be making snow on open trails during skiing hours. We are one day closer to being 100% open and will open the Advanced Upper Omigosh today, Friday and open our two new trails added last season, Intermediate Short ‘n’ Sweet and Beginners Turkey Trot on Saturday, January 17 for your holiday skiing and riding. Its great snowsports weather and a great time to get outdoors with your friends at Cataloochee!"

Sapphire Valley – They will be 100% open for today with their beginner hill and the lone ski slope open. They will also offer their Frozen Falls Tubing Park for this weekend!

Wolf Ridge – They reported minus 6.5° this morning and they have 50% of their mountain open and means that 10 of 20 trails will be offered with great conditions. They also have tubing open. We had some good communication with some fans of Wolf yesterday and hope to see a few more photos coming from over that way!

Hawksnest Tubing Park – minus 7° this am and they have evidently made all the snow that want or need as the guns are off and the groomers are out doing their thing (as we watched via the live cam) and the tubing should be fun today! Wrap up!

It should be an AWESOME day to ski and ride before the heavier crowds hit on Saturday and Sunday. Get out and get us some photos and videos of your trip and enjoy your day. Email us at [email protected]

It has been a while since the conditions have been so perfect for a major visitation weekend for the resorts and this should be a special skier visit number for all of the ski areas. It will be interesting to watch and compare traffic at all of the resorts and we’ll try to provide you some insight into what we’re seeing out there.

Be sure to check Meteorologist Brad Panovich’s weekend forecast! 

Also Ed Schneider, producer of Snowshoe Mountain sent us a great powder video that is running on the front of www.SkiSoutheast.com and you guys should check that out.

Enjoy your day!

Until Next time…

Send your snow photos, videos, comments or emails to: [email protected]


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Conditions were really nice says Jessica Bishop who rode at Cataloochee on the 13th! Click to enlarge this nice shot by Jessica of Knoxville, Tennesse
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