First Trax

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Anybody else sick of these 50° days? Particularly 50° MORNINGS! Thankfully I have some GOOD NEWS to share, but before we get into the good stuff, most of your emails have been asking about THE NORMAL temperatures. What is the normal highs and lows for this time of year? That is the question of the day.

To answer it I’d have to break down each of the 17 different ski areas and the communities that they are located in and there’s not enough room for that kind of analysis within this column. However, we can take a couple of communities and give you guys some idea as to how crazy this weather has been.

The NORMAL high for today in Banner Elk is 43° and the NORMAL low is 22°. I can tell you that we have not seen many days that were in the 22° range in the last month. Perhaps only a few days here and there. Most of the last four weeks have provided lows that are much closer to our normal HIGH, like this morning where the low was 46° at 5:54am.

We’ve been sharing the fact that the ski areas up into West Virginia and Maryland have had a lot better weather and temps to play with and this morning provides further evidence of that. The NORMAL low for Snowshoe Mountain is 18° and their normal HIGH is 39°. Today the high up that way should be around 39°. Wednesday’s temps up their are forecasted to be 38° for a high and 16° for the low.

Wednesday here in the North Carolina mountains is beginning to look somewhat more normal with a high of 44° (1° off) and a low temp around 30° (8° off).

Meteorologist Matthew East provides a "not so good" forecast for the next 36 hours within his Skier’s Forecast. That video can be seen by clicking here 

The synopsis of it is RAIN and lots of it for the next 36 hours all the way up the east coast. So much rain is forecasted that the National Weather Service has issued a FLOOD WATCH for portions of the Southeast mountain areas through Wednesday morning with what most weather gurus agree will be anywhere from 2-3" of rain with some isolated areas that will see perhaps close to 4" of rain. Matthew East is calling it a "conveyor belt" of moisture that will push through the area. Anybody have a pair of scissors? I’d like to cut that belt!

Of course all of this milder than normal weather has some emailing us about how this is all from "climate change". However, there was quite a bit of climate change back in 1946 when Snowshoe Mountain saw a high temperature on January 6, 1946 of 68°. Even many meteorologist who write to us weekly agree that climate change would only be affecting 1-3° of change on average and not the variety that has us some 15-20° above normal for lows. While I’m on the subject of records, there was unreal climate change back in 1988 when the low temp was minus 12° here in the mountains.


I told you guys that I had some good news to share and here it is. Once we get through this monsoon of rain, we’re looking at temperatures that are MUCH more normal for this time of year and we should see snowguns firing at every resort in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic with the kind of frequency that we’d expect from January 7th. There’s some light SNOW in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon and night – into Thursday. It probably won’t be anything to brag about, but along with those snow showers will come COLD AIR that should have us in the teens and 20s EVERY NIGHT from Wednesday night through at LEAST the next six nights!

That is great news as we all know that our snowmakers can do near-miraculous transformations with only two nights of snowmaking.

Matthew East also reports that the rest of January is looking a lot more normal with some waves of cold air that should make us snow lovers a lot happier.

Maybe we can get some more trail openings, huh???

So, tune up your skis and wax those snowboards and let’s look forward to what should be a good Thursday, better Friday and pretty nice weekend of riding. If the forecast holds as expected maybe we can look forward to more winterlike conditions at ALL of our ski areas of the region and not just those in WV and Maryland.

Here are some quick notes:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 46° – Foggy this AM. They are still looking quite nice today and will be in fine shape through the rain forecasted. Snowmaking will resume on Wednesday night and they will be in great shape by Thursday…and even better for the weekend. There is a good chance they’ll be 100% open for the weekend.

Cataloochee Ski Area – 47° – The Cat is holding up pretty good. They dropped 8" off their base from yesterday but still report 20-50". They’re looking a "little discolored" but all in all decent. They have 8 trails open for day and night skiing sessions. The tube park is open as well. Tammy Brown reminded us, "Don’t forget to join the Cat Crew on Thursday nights here for the Cataloochee Challenge Cup Race Series. Individuals race against the clock for the best of two runs. Top three challengers in both men’s and womens’ age divisions win cool stuff. You must be 21 years of age or older to participate. The Cat is where it’s at on Thursday night’s Challenge Cup Race Night. Call the ski area for more information."

There you go…

Cataloochee will begin making snow Wednesday night and be looking pretty by Thursday!

Sugar Mountain – 42° – Sugar is holding up o-k-a-y as they still have 11 trails open, but according to one of our team who snowboarded there last night, Big Red probably should not be open. Things are looking pretty "worn" there as well with a fair amount of thin coverage and bare areas. (Still some good coverage but in need of snowmaking like everyoine else.) Sugar does also have 2 lanes of snow tubing open and ice skating as well. Keep the faith though because Sugar will create some snow clouds on that hill beginning sometime on Wednesday as temps allow and you won’t believe your eyes by Friday morning.

Wolf Ridge Resort – 53° – They are looking okay on the 4 trails that they have open for today. They are advising people to call ahead for tubing. If you’re interested in tubing today call 828-689-3322.

Ski Beech – 45° – Things are looking p-r-e-t-t-y bad atop Beech Mountain today. As predicted they closed up Upper Shawneehaw due to the lack of snow coverage. Unfortunately they were forced to close Lower Shawneehaw as well and now only have Freestyle and Play Yard open (2 slopes) with thin coverage there as well. They have also ceased night skiing for tonight. They are anxiously awaiting the snowmaking temps that will hit sometime late on Wednesday so that they can provide a good product for the weekend.  Ryan Costin and his crew up at Beech have done a good job with the resources they’ve had thus far and you can bet they will fire up the snowmaking mechanism the moment the temps allow tomorrow.

Sapphire Valley Ski and Tubing has not filed reports with any service since December 29th. Their snow line is reporting that the are open, but evidently they don’t change that much either. We called the rec center and one of their employees reported that Sapphire would not be open today and they are closed for Wednesday and Thursday and hope to reopen for Friday.

Hawksnest’s Tubing Park is CLOSED. Lenny Cottom writes, "Due to the heavy rain forecast for Tuesday, January 6 through Thursday, January 8 we will not be open. We will be making snow on Thursday to make our conditions great for the weekend. We will reopen on Friday, January 9 at 10am, with sessions at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Hope to see you soon."

One glance at the live cam up there will show you things were looking pretty bad. With a couple of nights of focused snowmaking they’ll be fine for Friday!


As always, be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com  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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