Pent up Demand Creates Great Traffic at the Southeast Ski Areas!

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PENT UP DEMAND IS DRIVING BETTER THAN NORMAL TRAFFIC FOR JANUARY AND EARLY FEBRUARY. columnist Joe Stevens commented on it within his latest "Joe Knows Snow" column. Be sure to check it out. I commented on it last week as well, and I have also heard some comments from ski area managers that support the fact that traffic seems to be up…more so than normal for the last four to six weeks. Joe calls it "PUD" (short for pent up demand) and it makes sense. Conditions were the pits for a lot of the area around the Christmas break, then conditions improved then went south for a week or so and then since that time we’ve had mostly wonderful conditions pretty much across the board.

The increased crowds were noticeable simply by looking at parking lots and traffic on the slopes. One of our readers wrote us about his visit with his son to Sugar Mountain this past Saturday and he was so frustrated over the fact that they would ski for ten minutes and then wait in line for 40 minutes…making for only 4 or 5 trips down the mountain during one full ski session. (I know that we will receive the obligatory emails pleading for a Sugar Mountain quad lift…so go ahead.)

The main point is that traffic has definately been up. I was up at Appalachian to ski last Tuesday evening and while there was no lift lines to speak of…there was a rather good mid-week NIGHT crowd. Lenny Cottom of Hawksnest told me one day last week that they are experiencing a record season thus far. That is correct. No misprint. He said it. Other ski area managers are telling me that this season is definately a top five season thus far.

That is great news, because it takes skier numbers to meet budget numbers, to make capital improvements. (Like quad lifts!)

From what we’re hearing, the Christmas / Holiday numbers were off pretty much across the region. The first weekend or two was a bit off. However since then traffic has been brisk and the MLK Weekend was a great one. Anywhere from record setting to a top fiver. OFF holiday weekends have been considerably better than normal for many of the ski areas with only some pockets of down traffic as far as we can tell.


This weekend, February 15-18 is President’s Day Weekend and it is traditionally the last HUGE holiday weekend of traffic and important to all of the ski areas. Right now the weather looks to be making for anywhere from a GREAT weekend to pretty decent depending on where you might be wanting to ski or ride. We’re still a few days out and the forecast could change drastically but as things look right now the ski areas should see another near-to-record breaking weekend.

Of course there’s another four to six weeks of season left after this weekend so the jury is still out on how good the season will be documented on the accounting spreadsheets, but to date it has gone a lot better than a lot of people might think.

Although it has been a roller coaster like season in terms of periods of cold, followed by periods of thaw…the weather patterns have been nearly perfectly timed to provide rainy days on non-weekend days, and cold, snowmaking weather just prior to weekends and important holidays. So although it has not been a particularly cold or snowy winter region wide…it has been good enough to make for good numbers. The early poor conditions created so much PUD that skiers are hitting the slopes in better-than-average numbers for the last month and a half.


We promise to update you on Wednesday and Thursday to provide you with the latest news because this weekend’s weather pattern is a tricky one according to our weather gurus. I am certain that Meteorologists Brad Panovich and Matthew East will provide us with their take on things, but right now according to the NWS, here’s what it looks like right now:

For the North Carolina Mountains:

Good snowmaking temps for Wednesday and Thursday nights and a chance at some more snowmaking Friday night. We should see some natural snow on Wednesday as well. THAT sets the stage for even better conditions that we have right now…which are pretty darn nice. The cream of the crop right now in NC is Appalachian and Sugar, with Cataloochee getting honorable mention. Hawksnest, Wolf and Beech look pretty good right now, but after the added snowmaking should be in great shape for the weekend with plenty of slopes and trails to play on.

Friday looks great with sunny skies and a high in the upper 40s. Saturday looks cloudy but no real precip. If there is any it will be light and spordadic as it appears right now. Saturday night and Sunday look like a 50-50 shot at some light showers…and MAYBE even some snow in the mix. Sunday night and Monday look a bit snowy and cloudy.

OVERALL SUMMARY: Pretty Good and we’ll update you as we get closer.

Virginia Mountains:

Good snowmaking weather Wednesday and Thursday nights and a chance at additional snowmaking on Friday night. Friday should be nice, Saturday should be nice and sunny with highs in the low to mid 40s. Sunday looks iffy right now and there’s a chance of snow Sunday evening. Monday looks cloudy but no precip.

OVERALL SUMMARY: Pretty Good with only a bit of rain in the forecast


As has been the case all winter, the weather has been a bit more "kind" to the WV resorts. In fact, nearly four FEET of snow has fallen in West Virginia since the beginning of the year, and snowmaking temps have been more prevalent as well.

Wednesday brings another shot of snow – maybe an inch or two. Lows Wednesday night will be around 14°. Thursday and thursday night looks like around the clock snowmaking ops, but many probably will opt to only make snow at night. Friday looks great with a 30% chance of more snow and highs in the 30s and lows in the teens. Saturday looks snowy as well with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. Sunday looks like a mix of snow and possible rain, but right now looks light either way. …and Monday looks snowy with a high near 30°.

OVERALL SUMMARY: Very Good with only a slight chance of Sunday mist…and I’d bet on it being snow.


No snowmaking occurred at the North Carolina ski areas and here’s some quick notables:

App – 10 trails – 100% – Great Conditions

Cat – 11 trails – Great Conditions

Hawksnest – 31° – 9 trails – Decent to Good conditions with some thin coverage at the bottom but they were grooming that right early.

Ski Beech – Their website was down this morning, but we checked with the staff up on Beech and they have 12 trails open and they made snow yesterday for most of the day and conditions are good with only some bit of thin coverage. We recorded a low of 28° since midnight.

Sugar Mountain – 26° – 19 trails open and very nice conditions for Tuesday.

Wolf Ridge – 33° – 16 trails open –

Bryce Resort – 18° – Made snow. Chance of snow and 100% open today with all 8 trails

Massanutten – 18° – 10 trails open and they made snow. Conditions should be very nice with some snow/light drizzle mix later in the day.

Wintergreen Resort – 20° – Making snow and they have 21 trails open with very nice conditions today.

Canaan Valley – 16° – They are reporting 2" of snow and 14 trails open today. They made snow as well.

Snowshoe Mountain – 23° – They had an inch of snow, made snow overnight and have a region-leading 58 trails open. No snowmaking during sessions today and more snowmaking and natural snow is in the forecast for Wednesday.

Timberline Resort – 16° – 29 trails open and they too saw 2" of snow and that takes the Tucker County ski areas to 97" on the season. Great conditions for today.

Winterplace Resort – 34° – 28 trails (100% open) and they did not make snow. There’s a good chance of rain for today and this evening but snow is in the forecast for Wednesday with snowmaking temps down to 18° Wednesday night.

Wisp Resort – 22° – 24 trails open and they made snow and received another 2" of snow overnight. Expect periods of snow and freezing rain today and more snow on Wednesday…making for great conditions.

Ober Gatlinburg – 33° – 5 trails open. They did not make snow.

Enjoy your day…I’m going to be beat my head against a wall. JUST KIDDING MOM!

Until Next time…

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