A couple of additional sub-titles for today’s post could be:
- This is the Bonus, PreSeason for the Ski Areas of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
- Elevation and Temperatures Mean Everything in Snowmaking.
- Some Ski Resorts Just Don’t Open Earlier than mid-December, Because it Doesn’t Make Fiscal Sense to Do so.
Good Sunday morning everyone. Today is my day to simply ramble aimlessly from one subject to another. With that in mind, let’s dive in. The weather is not exactly cooperating with every ski area, so snowmaking is not happening at every ski area, so check the SNOW REPORT for details.
It is called SNOW MAKING, not SNOW BLOWING.
Since we are on the subject of “Snow Blowing” – During two separate, Charlotte, North Carolina television newscast this week, I overheard the television host proclaim, excitedly that the mountains were “blowing snow”. None of our ski resorts BLOW SNOW. They MAKE SNOW.
Here’s a lesson in the difference.
In the photo above, snow is BLOWING over a ridge. You’ll often find DEEP deposits of snow just over a ridgetop where high winds BLOW SNOW from one side of the ridge to the other. I have personally experienced deposits over at the base of Beech Mountain (actually in Banner Elk) where during a five inch snowfall, winds had BLOWN snow across a ridge, depositing armpit-deep snow. That is ALWAYS a blast.
The photo BELOW is NOT of a machine BLOWING SNOW, but actually MAKING SNOW.
These machines do not have a tank somewhere, where snow is stored such that they can pull snow through a hose and blast it to the slopes. These machines actually only BLOW very, high-pressure water through nozzles. Those nozzles create very, very small nucleation of that water in order to seed the formation of ice crystals. (We will HAVE to get Meteorologist, Brad Panovich to do a video about this!)
The basic ingredients for snowmaking are:
Cold weather. A quantity called the wet bulb temperature must be below 28°F in order to make snow.
Compressed air. As the compressed air is released into the atmosphere, the expansion results in a cooling effect that is important for nucleation.
Pressurized water. The high-pressure water is sprayed through nozzles that ensure proper droplet size.
A snow gun. This is the apparatus that releases the pressurized air and water in the into the air, producing water droplets that freeze to form ice.
When all of these ingredients are present, snowmaking should be successful! The amount of snow produced depends on factors such as amount of water used, temperature, and the type of snow gun.
Snow guns, sometimes referred to as snowmakers or snow machines (BUT NEVER SNOW BLOWERS except by uninformed rookies), release the correct mixtures of air and water into the air in order to turn the water into snow. They are equipped with different types of nozzles that produce the proper spray patterns.
There are three general categories of snow guns:
All snow guns require some mechanism for nucleation in order to seed the formation of ice crystals. As discussed previously, nucleation involves a very small amount of water mixing with compressed air. Each snow gun may be described by its nucleation method as either internal or external mix, based on how the water and air mix to form the nucleation stream.
I SURE HOPE that anyone reading this will forward along / SHARE with anyone they know within the media so that we can get everyone on the same page.
GOOD SEEING SKIPINK
I got a surprise visit from Ski Pink this past week. She dropped by the office as she was in the area, enjoying some turns at Beech Mountain. We caught up on how life was treating each of us. Frances is a great gal and she shared that she and their entire entourage are headed to Snowshoe Mountain for some Holiday skiing for the umteenth time again this season.
I hope to MAKE TIME to make some turns with their crew at some point locally or even out west this season.
I also recently heard from Jeff Jackson (from that same crew) last week after I mentioned my Gamecocks beating Clemson last weekend. His Georgia Dawgs dominated the SEC Championship on Saturday evening.
I know that JEFF is ecstatic over the state of Georgia football right now. I personally hate Georgia football, just a bit less than Clemson – but I have to say that I am VERY happy for Jeff.
Captain America, as most of us know him from the SkiSoutheast messageboard suffered a debilitating stroke a short time back and while Jeff has MANY reasons and challenges medically that would prevent most of us from even getting out of BED, Jeff continues to earn his Captain America status as he still gets out on the slopes as much as possible. He plans to do so again in a couple of weeks.
God Speed Jeff. We are with you in prayers, spirit and Love dude.
Which Resorts are OPEN? WHICH HAVE MADE SNOW? WHICH MADE SNOW OVERNIGHT?
Resorts that MADE SNOW (and may still be this morning or overnight)
Snowshoe Mountain – 25° – They are benefitting from colder temps this morning. That enabled Snowshoe to make snow and increase their slope offering to 17 trails for Sunday. That is 25% of their available acreage and 28% of their slopes and trails open for play. Snowshoe posted:
We love waking up to the sound of snowguns on a Sunday morning! Our mountain operations team has given us a nice refresh overnight. Today we’ll be enjoying mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 30’s – should be a perfect day to be out making some early season turns! Upper Flume is now open for Basin access from Top of the World (return via shuttle from Village).
Enhance your on-mountain experience with our new app! Track your stats, connect with friends, navigate the mountain, and receive real time updates. Learn more at snowshoemtn.com/app.
Sugar Mountain Resort – 37° – I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Gunther and his Sugar Mountain snowmaking crew can make snow when nobody else can in the region and at milder temperatures than most resorts.
Notice their BASE temp this morning was 35.7° and the SUMMIT temp was 42.2°. Yet, they ARE making snow atop Oma’s Meadow at the new lift that was installed at the top location of Sugar Ski & Country Club. Sugar is open with (8) slopes, ice skating and night sessions as well.
Timberline Resort – 19° – The perfect family (Chip Perfect, Paige Perfect and their family-owned and operated resort) have things sailing along just p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y during this preseason for a lot of ski areas in the region. They were BLASTING away at the slopes, top and bottom this morning and even though they have not updated their own snow report, we have them open with 11 slopes and trails.
We DO see where they will suspend operations during the weekdays this week and potentially December 12-15th. I noticed that they have Twister open and I’m hoping that and more are ready for primetime during the Christmas week.
Timberline’s marketing crew summed up some of my own content within this post – as to WHY resorts don’t blast away all the time and/or open all the time this early in the season. They wrote:
As we wait for winter to set in, we will be adjusting our operational status accordingly. The mountain sees higher attendance on the weekends this early in the season. Redirecting our manpower from active operations to infrastructure, snowmaking, and system improvements during the weekdays will create a better experience for our guests during the holidays and peak season.
There you go.
Winterplace Resort – 22° – They are not open yet, but there are blasting away to get open this coming Saturday, December 10th. Tom Wagner and their crew posted:
LET THE SEASON BEGIN! This year we will begin our season with two bonus days of skiing on December 10th & 11th 9am-9pm. We will be suspending operations from December 12th-15th for snowmaking. Our 40th Anniversary Season will officially kick-off on December 16th, 2022!
Wisp Resort – 25° and they are STILL making snow as of 9:52am, Sunday morning. Wisp fans are excited about their more aggressive opening this season. (8) slopes are already open as well as their awesome tubing hill. This is a LIVE capture at 9:53am this morning:
Resorts that did not make snow. Many are open. Some Not.
Again, CHECK THE SNOW REPORT TO SEE WHO IS OPEN AND HOW MANY SLOPES, ETC.
Appalachian Ski Mountain – frustratingly close temps at 33°. Slopes look great though!
Beech Mountain Resort – frustratingly close temps at 34°. Slopes look great though!
Bryce Resort – they are reporting that they made snow, but we think that report is from Friday morning with overnight snowmaking Thursday nite. They ARE open with four slopes for day sessions.
Canaan Valley Resort – While it IS 19° there at 9am this morning, they are not making snow. You might wonder why. The reason is logic. While it IS cold today, there is some rain in the forecast and management is looking at some nice, cold temps and natural snow coming into Davis, WV Tuesday through Friday. The SECOND reason is that Canaan Valley can afford to be choosy as to taking advantage of early-season, snowmaking opportunities and THIS is where one of those extra, sub-titles to today’s post come into play. Insert TITLE 3 here. Canaan Valley Resort is unique in the region in that it is owned by the State of West Virginia and one hundred percent of profits are reinvested into the property to maintain, improve, and preserve Canaan Valley Resort State Park. They have some of the best conditions to make snow, and they average 150+” of natural snow every winter, but if you’ve been to Canaan Valley Resort, even on the busiest of days, you just won’t see long lift lines. Opening sooner than mid-December, just in time prepare for the heavy, Christmas-to-New-Year’s-Week, simply doesn’t make much sense. Once open, however, Canaan Valley Resort and the entire area of Tucker County is a “hidden gem” that MANY, experienced and longtime skiers and snowboarders in the region have not visited. You owe it to yourself to do just that! They plan to open December 17th.
Cataloochee Ski Area – 42.1° this morning. This particular front has temps in Maggie Valley, North Carolina that are 23° milder than the 19° at Davis, West Virginia this morning. Insert sub-title #2 here. Crazy thing is that Cataloochee Ski Area is 1120′ HIGHER at its peak elevation that Canaan Valley (and 1330′ higher at its base elevation), but those cold fronts simply bring much colder air (on average) into West Virginia and Maryland than into many portions of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. (Anyone notice Cataloochee’s new website. Nice work, performed by theKenDog, Kenny Griffin.
Additional “Cat” note: I noticed Chris Bates out grooming this morning. The snow looks good, but I did notice that they have dropped back to 8 slopes open for Sunday.
Massanutten Resort – 45° there this morning ;-( – Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating and the ski slopes will not re-open as anticipated for the coming weekend. Snow Tubing will be open Friday from 5:00pm – 9:00pm and 9:00a- 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. We will continue to make snow at every opportunity to re-open the slopes just as soon as possible.
Ober Mountain – 34° – They have (1) slope open (the ski school slope) and tubing, ice skating, etc.
Sapphire Valley Resort – 53° – They have a target date of December 17th to open. It is usually not cool of us to speculate, but with this being the third La Nina winter pattern in a row, this could be a REALLY tough challenge to get cold enough temperatures LONG ENOUGH and consistent enough for the Southernmost Ski Area in our coverage area.
The Homestead Resort (Omni Homestead Resort) plans to open just before Christmas. No snowmaking just yet.
Wintergreen Resort – 37.3° – They have a tentative opening date of December 10th, and that COULD happen with the cold air and snow that looks to be headed into the area. However, it will be a challenge. I know I speak for their great, marketing crew when I say, that their super-powered, snowmaking plant can and will cover the slopes asap and open prior to Christmas as weather permits.
Wolf Ridge Resort – they are open for 4 slopes today.
Feel free to email me: [email protected] Also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.