First Trax

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I’ve been vacationing at Snowshoe for the last six days and since Sunday afternoon the snowguns have been blasting away.

That’s 60+ hours straight that the temps have stayed below freezing and they are still there this morning and temps are forecasted to nosedive down to 7° this evening.

Most of the ski areas in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic have not had the benefit of those kinds of temperatures, with only Beech and Sugar having been able to make snow Tuesday morning. (Timberline up in West Virginia did as well.)

However, FINALLY we’re starting to see the cold temps really invading the North Carolina Mountains as we’re seeing the following temps at 7am:

Beech Mountain – 27°
Sugar Mountain – 26°
Cataloochee – 31°

The forecast for today is for falling temps and highs around 34° and lows tonight near 13°. That means lots of snowmaking and improving conditions for all of the ski areas.  Our ski areas in North Carolina were anticipating colder air to filtrate into the state last night, but it didn’t quite make it, but thankfully we’ll all see the colder air New Year’s Eve so if you’re out there celebrating with some night skiing or watching some of the fireworks, etc…


I wish that I was making that statement due to a foot of fresh powder! Although some light snow is forecasted to fall – no significant snow is expected. In this case "BLOWN AWAY" is the heavy winds that are accompanying this colder air. 20-30 mph winds will be the norm today with gusts to 40 mph. That will make for some low wind chill values so be prepared and cover all exposed skin.

Here is today’s tour:

Ski Beech – 28° low – They are building base with two days of intermittent snowmaking. The great news is that they are open to the top again with 5 trails. Ryan Costin posted, "Snow making is in progress, and we are re-opening Upper Shawneehaw. The forecast is good for continued snow making with several days of cold weather starting on New Year’s Eve. We are looking forward to a change in the weather pattern so that we can open more terrain as soon as possible."

Beech offers ice skating today at noon and there’s a New year’s Eve party in the Beech Tree.

Sugar Mountain – 26° low – They are making snow as well and offer the same 11 trails for today. They have 3 lanes of tubing open and ice skating as well. Sugar also has a torchlight parade tonight to celebrate New Years. There will be fireworks…and some great terrain to ski on!

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 35° low – No Snowmaking – They are in very good shape though with 8 of 10 trails open. Both terrain parks and ice skating is open as well and App has some great fireworks and a torchlight parade. Drew Stanley posted, "Join us for New Year’s Eve and ring in 2009 in style! Fireworks, torchlight skiing and more. Moonlight ice skating from 10 pm to midnight. Breakfast available from 9pm to midnight."

Editor’s Note: If you guys could get us some photos or video of that, it would be great!

Cataloochee Ski Area – 31° low – No Snowmaking – They are holding their own despite the lack of snowmaking temps. They will have 5 trails open for skiing and riding Wednesday and the tubing park is open as well. Tammy Brown summed up our disappointment about the colder temps that were expected to come in last night by saying, "The colder weather did not come in as quickly as anticipated but temperatures are slated to drop during the day on Wednesday with a low on New Year’s Eve in the teens and snowmaking weather is in the forecast for the rest of the upcoming week with a possibility of some natural snowfall on Friday! We will begin to make snow as quickly as the temperatures allow in an effort to capture the colder weather and maximize snowmaking to add to our current base depth and open additional terrain as quickly as possible.

On Wednesday, we will be skiing on five slopes, from midstation down, Intermediate Lower Omigosh serviced by the Omigosh Double Chairlift, Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill serviced by the Easy Way Triple Chairlift, Wolf Creek Hollow Ski School Area serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor Lift and Beginner’s Luck Learning Area serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor Lift on a base of 14-50” and a machine worked surface."

Wolf Ridge has not updated a report for 3 days now, but they look pretty good via their webcam and should be offering 6 trails to ski and ride on for day and night skiing and we understand that tubing is open as well.

Hawksnest Tubing Park – Lenny Cottom wrote, "Today will be a windy day. If the wind gusts stay above 40 mph then we may be forced to close for the day or for just a few sessions. Please call us before traveling to the resort today to check conditions. If you purchased your tickets online for a session today and the resort closes, we will transfer your tickets to another day or refund your money. Please call us when you decide.

The good news is the wind is bringing some cold air for snowmaking. Hopefully, we will be able to open more lanes in the next day or two. Snowmaking will resume when wind and temperatures allow."

SO HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS TODAY…and be thankful that some colder air is on the way…and that means even more terrain should be opening soon.

There’s a little more snow to report about over on so…

As always, be sure to click over to  for more news about ALL of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic including more photos of the day, more snow news, more videos…and just MORE!

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

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