Powder Skiing and Snowboarding for Your Sunday Enjoyment on December 20, 2009!

First Trax

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Good morning snow lovers! It is Sunday and I’m trying to head out and do some "product evaluation" with my crew today so check the SNOW REPORT for all of the details of your favorite ski area today. We will post some various tidbits of interest about a few resorts today, but let’s get right to what you’re wanting to know about – THE STORM TOTALS!

For the most part the Blizzard of 2009 is over although a lot of the ski areas (and even here at my home) are still getting some light snow today. Snow is in the forecast for much of the area over the next few days, Christmas and after! It is GORGEOUS out and about and YOU GUYS need to come play in the snow with those of us who live in the mountains!

Here’s the latest snow totals from around the southeast and mid Atlantic ski region:
(We compile snow totals from on-snow spotters, the resorts themselves and Cocorahs.)

Appalachian Ski Mountain – +1" on Saturday to 17"
Cataloochee Ski Area – +4" to 22"
Beech Mountain Resort – +4" to 18"
Sugar Mountain Resort – +4" to 18"
Wolf Ridge Resort – +4" to 14"
Sapphire Valley Ski – 5" (no new accummulation)

Bryce Resort – +8" to 18"
Massanutten Resort – +10" to 20"
Wintergreen Resort – +6" to 30"

Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center – +11.4" to 22.3"
Timberline Resort – +11.4" to 22.3"
Snowshoe Mountain – +7" to 24"
Winterplace Resort – +7" to 24"

Wisp Resort – +8" to 12"
Ober Gatlinburg – +3" to 13"

As you can see, the storm basically began down south and then delivered a massive snowmaker to resorts northward and then the wrap around effect had more of an effect on ski areas into Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland on Saturday.

From 13" of snow at Ober Gatlinburg, to 18" at Beech & Sugar, to 22" at Cataloochee Ski Area, to 30" at Wintergreen Resort to 24" at pretty much all of the West Virginia ski areas – take your pick – they are ALL offering the best pre-Christmas ski and snowboarding conditions that we’ve seen in years!


The snow was awesome on Saturday! I kept receiving updates throughout the day from ski
areas reporting some amazing powder! Laura Parquette emailed me around noon and they
had 21" of snow at that time. Ed Schneider, Snowshoe’s media/video guy sent a phenomenal powder video that is on the front of SkiSoutheast.com (you should go look at that one!)

I did my own version of a Chevy truck commercial as I had to pull a 4wd Ford Expedition out of a snow bank. Problem was – the Ford Expedition was mine as well! This was some seriously dense snow that was wet at the base once you compacted it, creating a slippery surface for many. Of course, when the snow is so deep that your vehicle sinks to the chassis or frame, then the tires don’t do a lot of good! My 4wd Chevy truck did the trick though and I was able to get out and see the sites.

Hats off to the NC DOT crews as Hwy 105, 321 and 184 were all nearly clean to perfect pavement despite piles of snow along the roadways. Of course secondary roads were still 14-16" deep in snow! I can’t speak for the rest of the ski areas, but I was amazed at how great the road conditions were out and about on Saturday. 184 was clear as a bell at Sugar’s entrance, but even that highway became snow covered once in Banner Elk.


Here we are in the midst of The Blizzard of 2009 and there’s 16-30" of snow blanketing all of the ski areas of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic and I can’t believe the emails that I received today asking about a "warm up" after Christmas. Then my wife informs me that one of our good friends from down in Lexington, SC (who is joining us on a ski getaway over the Christmas break) called to question us about how warm the forecast was looking on the Saturday after Christmas. She said, "It’s going to be near 60° in Columbia that weekend. Are we going to be seeing mild temps at Snowshoe!?!?"

First of all, Carolyn Walker, Columbia is the hottest city north of the equator more times than not! Rumor has it that Satan winters in Columbia. I grew up in ColaTown so I can attest to how warm the midlands of South Carolina can be. Second, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER! I spend tons of time each winter trying to educate the masses and here is one of my good friends forgetting the lesson of elevation.

When I read my inbox this morning I wanted to hit a mass delete because so many people had asked basically the same question that our friend had asked. So let’s address the facts.

FACT: According to the NWS the high temp forecasted for next Saturday in Columbia, SC is 52°. Not exactly the oven-baked status that you can experience on any given summer day in the Midlands, but not winter, wonderlike either. HOWEVER, the forecasted high temp for Snowshoe Mountain, WV for next Saturday is 23°!

Next – forecast that are more than 3-4 days out are based on history anyway, but according to most weather gurus right now, we’re looking at MORE SNOW next weekend!

So remember that JUST because it’s mild in your hometown, that doesn’t mean that the mountains are mild. For every 1000 feet in elevation change, you can expect from 2-5° difference in temperatures. So when you at 500′ in elevation at your hometown and drive to an elevation that exceeds 4800′, you can expect to see a difference of 20-30° or more.

Here’s a couple of quick-hitting notes:

Wolf Ridge is now reporting 18 trails open today. Just heard from Justin Blythe from Wolf and he wrote, "Hey Mike, the phones are all down around the mountain. Conditions are primo! Everything is open except the Breakaway section. "

Wolf Ridge is nearly 100% open which some naysayers predicted would not happen.

Sapphire Valley Ski Area has been making snow after picking up about 5" of snow from this storm and they will open for the season tomorrow, Monday, December 21st.

Canaan Valley’s David vance wrote, "Mother nature has blessed the valley by dumping nearly 2′ of snow in the past 24 hours. This winter storm will allow Canaan Valley Resort Ski Area to open on Sunday with 30 total trails for our skiers to enjoy. Several trails are open with natural snow, and we expect additional accumulation over the next few days (just in time for the holidays). Come to the mountains of West Virginia for a white Christmas and enjoy family fun activities like skiing, tubing, airboarding, and more at Canaan Valley Resort."

Snowshoe is now open with 33 trails which is exactly what Laura had forecasted that they would get to by today when she updated us on Thursday. Maybe we should invent a new term called "slopecasting". 33 trails, 2 feet of snow, 12° – that spells powder fun!

Timberline Resort is open, contrary to some reporting services. They had 4 trails open on Saturday and according to "Lewis" (who I spoke with there) they hope to have more open today. They DO have 17 km of backcountry terrain open with up to two feet of snow!

Winterplace Resort is upped their open slope total to 17 of 28 for Sunday enjoyment! They reported another 7" of snow and 24" from the storm.

Wisp Resort has 15 trails open today for day sessions only! They also have their new ice rink open, the mountain coaster and snow tubing fun.

Ober Gatlinburg picked up another 3" of snow and that takes them to 13" from the storm and 14" on the season. They play on 5 of 8 trails today and until 7pm!

A couple of people wrote me that OnTheSnow.com actually lists Cataloochee as open with "limited terrain". Ummm, no. They are 100% open.

OntheSnow.com also shows Sugar rated as the #5 ski area in North Carolina??? App rated number 1, Beech #3, Wolf #2, Cat #4. Sapphire #6


Don’t forget that right on the front page middle column you can see all of the snow that’s fallen for the last 24, 48, 72 hours and of course that information is on each resort’s snow report page on SkiSoutheast and look at current conditions for the resort you’re interested in and it will be displayed there as well. You can always get ALL of that information in one glance on the Snow Report page!

You can check the snow reports for all of the ski resorts of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina via https://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php as well as videos, photos and more.

Send your comments, videos, photos, trip reports and questions to: [email protected]

SSAA: 0 for 23 app8not7/timbclosednot/self 22/23
Sug 29bech 19/12/19
be 14+4 su 20+4

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