The photo of the day today is kind of double entendre. With the weekend forecast for freezing rain, sleet, snow and rain…there is ALWAYS something to do at our ski mountains if you don’t want to ski, ride or play in the under-developed snow. The other meaning? The delicious cocktail pictured is a special Valentine’s Day Strawberry Mule all day tomorrow at Timberline Mountain’s Slippery Slope Bar & Grill. You can enjoy a slope-side dinner with your special valentine at Timberline Mountain. (MAN, have the Perfect North team delivered on a great, new vibe at Timberline compared to the past?!?)
By the way, most of our mountain ski areas offer lots to do on and off the slopes.
Into Every Life, a Little Freezing Rain Must Fall?!?!
The last time that I personally reported in (which was last Sunday), every ski resort in the region had received significant, overnight snowfall. In fact, on that previous Saturday (last Saturday) the region saw from 2″ to 3″ at the West Virginia and Maryland resorts, to 4″ at the North Carolina ski areas, to 6-7″ of snow in the Virginia ski resorts (and at Winterplace Resort) in lower, West Virginia.
In those last six days since last Saturday, we have seen what our own, Kenny Griffin, described as a “cold air damming” effect that has blocked the coldest air in the region to the north. That colder air was on display during the middle of the week and especially from Wednesday through today where we saw (and are still seeing) crazy differences in the temperatures between the Maryland, West Virginia, and even the normally, somewhat milder Virginia mountains – compared to the ski mountain towns of North Carolina.
Normally, whatever the temperatures are in the West Virginia mountains, you’ll get those or a tick less cold in the North Carolina mountains – with the Virginia mountains being another notch milder.
That has not been the case this week as we have consistently seen temperatures in the teens to upper 20s in the West Virginia and Maryland mountains compared to the mid 30s and even 40° this morning on top of Beech Mountain! That difference in temperatures, along with the moisture that has enveloped the entire region from Maryland to Sapphire Valley in North Carolina has made from some HUGE differences in conditions across the region.
That setup over the last six days has left another 3″ to 6″ of snow in the Virginia ski mountains this week; another 4″ to 6.3″ of snow in the West Virginia ski mountains; and a whopping 8″ of new snow at Wisp Resort in Maryland. At the same time they were getting snow this week, the North Carolina and Tennessee ski mountains got nothing but a cold, drizzly rain.
Interestingly, Winterplace in West Virginia also missed out on the natural snowfall with 0″ reported in the last six days.
Be sure to check out our FULL SNOW REPORT that reflects snowfall totals on the season, as well as the slope openings and more across the region.
…and YES, it’s another SOLD OUT Weekend…at MANY Ski Areas.
Again, Into Every Life a Little Freezing Rain Must Fall…
It is STILL a notch colder into the West Virginia ski mountains this morning, as we’re seeing readings of 29° this morning at Canaan, and Snowshoe Mountain. However, those temps will creep only slightly higher today to around 31° and the forecast for the WV mountains is for Freezing rain and a mix of wintry weather – including sleet and some snow. Ditto that for Sunday and Monday.
The Virginia mountains will look VERY MUCH like the forecast just shared for West Virginia with highs today around 33° to 35° with Freezing rain and some freezing drizzle, and then a bit of “further, under-developed snow” Sunday and Sunday night. Monday is just looking rainy with highs around 42° or so.
The North Carolina mountains are STILL that notch milder right now (for the first time this season) and the temperatures are around 33° this morning and expected to creep up to 39°-40° or so today, Sunday and Monday with a mix of rain, drizzle, freezing rain and overall yuck.
If there’s any good news in this weekend’s forecast it is that it isn’t HEAVY RAIN.
The First Lost Weekend of the Season???
Oh, I don’t think so! One look around the snow reports and updates for each ski area reveals that guests made the trip for this LAST long, holiday weekend of the season and many are SOLD OUT!
In fact, Massanutten Resort in Virginia reported being SOLD OUT for ALL SESSIONS THROUGH MONDAY!
The light, pesky rain and drizzle that we’ve seen in the North Carolina mountains over the last few days has done nothing to diminish the base depths or the traffic coming to the mountains. The good news for the ski mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee (which NOT the best news for visitors) is that due to how crazy busy this entire season has been – guests HAD to plan well ahead to even GET lift passes, rentals and lodging so they booked well in advance. In fact, a week ago THIS WEEKEND looked pretty snowy for the NC ski mountains and guests continued to book in huge numbers and it appears that most kept their reservations as many areas are sold out again today, Sunday and even Monday.
“The Mountains Are Calling…But Not this Weekend????”
I witnessed a pretty clever guest comment on social media last night when I saw that one of our mountains had posted a message on Facebook and Instagram sharing the John Muir quote of “the mountains are calling”. The clever comment was, “Not THIS WEEKEND with many being SOLD OUT!”
He was correct, with the exception that while day sessions are sold out at many places, there ARE still available (limited) tickets for night sessions – which are less crowded as well.
Despite the rain that has fallen across the NC and Tennessee mountains, resorts remain 100% open with the exceptions of Cataloochee which is one slope short of being fully open; and Wolf Ridge Resort which has admittedly disappointed their fans all season with only 6 of 15 slopes open. (More on that below.)
West Virginia Resorts are MORE OPEN Than They’ve Been in Several Years
Even though there’s been less natural snowfall than normal at the West Virginia resorts this season, it HAS been consistent and the temperatures have been awesome all winter long. West Virginia has 157 slopes and trails to offer visitors (not counting Oglebay) and of those 157 trails – 152 of them are open to play on!
I cannot remember the last time I was able to report that! Canaan Valley is only one slope short of being 100%; Snowshoe is one short as is Winterplace Resort and Timberline Mountain is 100% open for the first time in ages…thanks to the huge investment in snowmaking equipment over the summer.
Here is another sweet shot of Canaan Valley…from 10am this morning – sweet huh?
I had to show you guys this sweet shot of Elakala Falls in the Canaan Valley area from yesterday. I would SO love to be there!
Virginia Ski Mountain Are Looking Awesome!
The four Virginia ski areas offer 59 slopes and trails and of those all but two trails at Omni Homestead Resort are open. They’ve seen more natural snowfall in the last two weeks than in most of the last five years.
Ditto Ober Gatlinburg & Wisp Resort
Ober Gatlinburg is dealing with some rain right now, but they are open with 9 of 10 slopes and Wisp Resort, which has struggled mightily to get terrain open over the last few years – now has 33 of 34 slopes and trails open for skiing and snowboarding. I have to tell you when Wisp is as open as they are right now – there is no better terrain to play on in the region.
Click on the images below to enlarge. It is snowing there as of 10am.
Wisp Resort’s marketing staff is calling their conditions – “The Best Ever”.
Despite this Last Week’s Weather, North Carolina Still Looks Awesome (Except for Wolf…)
Since we in the mood to share “digits”, the six North Carolina ski areas offer a combined total of 85 slopes and trails of which 75 are open for skiing. Appalachian, Beech, Sapphire and Sugar are ALL 100% open. As mentioned before, Cataloochee is one slope short of 100% with 17 of 18 trails open and Wolf Ridge is open with 6 of 15.
Some Shares and Closing Comments…
Appalachian Ski Mountain Showing Good Conditions Despite Some Under-Developed Snow
Just Because Of a Little Rain, That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have Fun!
I received more than a few emails on Friday from visitors who had purchased their lift passes more than two weeks ago and wondered what to do if it rains all weekend.
Duh! Go Play in the Rain. Embrace your inner child and get out and play a little in the rain. You won’t melt or rust. Just do it.
One such inquiry came from Ann Marie De Marinis-Gaba (man I LOVE HER NAME!) as she asked about her Beech Mountain lift passes, “So what happens if it rains with our passes we bought two weeks ago?”
She also posted that question on Facebook and some of the responses were everything BUT…just GO PLAY! I have skied numerous times in the rain and can honestly say that I enjoyed it each time. It has been a VERY SWEET, weather season so far across the entire region and it is indeed a shame that this last, huge, holiday weekend is going to be a wet one, but you might as well make lemonade out of lemons and just go play.
This Snow Tubing Thing Is Huge!
Haha. We’ve known that for a few years now. I’ll never forget when what used to be an awesome ski resort called Hawksnest shut down to offer snow tubing and zip lining only. It disappointed the heck out of yours truly but there’s very little overhead and lots of clear profit in tubing.
Several ski resorts have shared that snow tubing has been sold out every weekend and Ober just shared that their popular tubing hill is SOLD OUT from NOW through February 20th EVERY DAY. (That is week days too.)
Wintergreen Resort shared this about their tubing operation
“We are excited to announce some changes related to snow tubing ticket sales in an effort to better accommodate our guests. Tubing ticket sales will now launch every Monday at Noon for the following Thursday thru Sunday of that week. We are pleased to partner with a new provider to better facilitate the high demand for The Plunge experience. Please bookmark and visit this link (https://bit.ly/2ZdMCgG) to purchase Wintergreen snow tubing tickets each Monday starting at Noon.”
Crazy busy skier visit season….
Day 78 of 124 Day Ski & Snowboarding Season; and Consecutive Day 50 with Snow on the Ground
As reported, we’ve had some rain around the North Carolina High Country, but despite that rain, we still have natural snow on the ground for the 50th consecutive day in a row. We are also now 63% of the way through the 2020-2021 ski & snowboarding season with approximately 46 more days remaining.
As we have reported all season long, this season has been awesome, fantastic, successful, profitable, and about any other positive adjective you want to throw into the mix. It will be a record setter for MANY of our area’s ski resorts. North Carolina and Virginia ski areas will set all time skier-visit record numbers even if the season were to end today.
However, let’s hope that we have another month or so of the same great weather pattern. There IS more snow in the forecast. Stay tuned to Meteorologist Brad Panovich next Skier’s Forecast Video!
So, What, (if anything) Is Going on with Wolf Ridge Resort?
Next to questions pertaining to Covid-19 Protocols and Sold Out resorts, THAT HAS BEEN the most asked question in my SkiMail inbox.
Most of the questions relate to this one:
“Can you tell me why Wolf isn’t making snow when other resorts like even Ober Gatlinburg and Cataloochee in the area are? They never seem to be able to get more than 6 slopes open.”
They did actually have 13 open for a day or so around January 24th, but these and the hundreds that I get about Wolf all relate to the same thing.
Other emails suggest a needed facelift. Most relate to how nice and friendly the resorts ops are (and they are very nice).
Other comments and questions are like these:
Christopher Peek wrote: “Why only half the mountain open ? With all the consistent cold and occasional snow. All the other snow resorts at 100 percent.”
David Burnham wrote, “I’m wondering why you advertised the bowl and report shows closed???”
Meredith Manning wrote, “PLEASE open more terrain PLEASE.”
Melanie Hough Francis wrote, “Please open the whole mountain!! Wolf is my home away from home and I’m a loyal skier there but less than 50% open is frustrating! So many missed opportunities for snow making.”
Trina Mingus wrote, “YES!! We would love to ski WL if more was open. Everyone else has everything open & has for weeks. But yet again WL disappoints with their snow making ability.”
Sound like disgruntled peeps at the old Timberline from a couple of years back?
The snow has been so great this winter that fans of Wolf have been a little nicer with their complaints than the fans of Timberline did over the last few years prior to Timberline being bought out by Chip Perfect.
However, the heat is picking up steam.
Steve Slotchiver wrote, “Come on y’all, you know that WL will never be up to speed until they turn it over to someone else to run. Aren’t y’all tired of the yearly disappointments on how they manage the ski resort.”
Michael Seckinger wrote, “Love your park…but those lifts and chairs could use a face lift. Also…when you look down you see a lot of trash on the ground.”
We’ve reached out to speak with Wolf’s, Jonny Goins and Orville English but no dice. They’ve been busy and this HAS been a challenging season AND the “little resort that could be a big resort” has had way more than its share of bad luck since 2013. However, their fans are growing restless, especially when they see other ski areas in the region investing tons of money on infrastructure, new lifts, tons of high-tech, snowmaking equipment and yet they see Wolf Ridge “standing pat”.
English and some partners out a lot into the place just prior to the 2008 financial crisis and actually expanded the mountain (adding trails), built a nice lodge and mountaintop experience only to see that take a dive post 2008. Additional problems arose with mysterious fires that destroyed the lodge and the new lift. Again, bad luck has loomed over the place like a bad “Wolf Moon”.
We know that Wolf Ridge Resort is enjoying a VERY successful, skier visit season and hopefully they can reinvest some of that into the mountain as they are struggling to say the least…and their fans are beginning to circle like those howling wolves, hungry for a great feast in the winter.
This story has ALL of the feel of Timberline’s over the past decade and despite some failed attempts to purchase Wolf Ridge, something’s got to give to bring back some “shine” to the place.
Our fingers are crossed.
We’ll leave it to you guys to check out the Live Stream at Wolf, as they are the only ski resort in the region that is looking a little worse for wear. Fans of the resort have emailed and taken to social media to ask why they haven’t made more snow when they could this season and opened up more terrain. There are certainly some continuing issues going on at Wolf Ridge.
By the way, the camera was working perfectly this morning, but the view was pretty sketch compared to the other resorts in the region.
A PodCast In Our Future???
Joe Stevens of “Snow News is Good News”, called me a week or so ago and mentioned the idea of us starting a podcast for the region’s ski resorts. We’ve talked about that a few times over the last two years with various members of our team and I think we’re going to do it.
We’d LOVE to hear from you. If you have ideas for episode subjects and themes, let us know. We’re also considering many names for it. If you have a suggestion, let us know.
That will do it for me today. Email me anything you like at [email protected]