Photo of the Day shows the Base at Sapphire Valley Resort via their Live Cam.
Even as far as “preseason” ski seasons go, it has been a sluggish start. However, it isn’t unprecedented. There have been PLENTY of Novembers with little to no snowmaking for Southeastern ski areas. Last year’s terrible, natural snowfall numbers – combined with THIS November’s lack of snow or consistent cold temperatures have a lot of folks filling up our SkiMail inbox and making comments on social platforms. All you have to do is pay a quick visit to any of the ski mountain’s Facebook pages and you’ll find comments like:
“Here we go again.”
“It has been a rough start to the season.”
One, particularly worried soul posted, “Will we ever see a normal ski season again?”
I’m going to borrow a familiar phrase to those of us who are college football fans – and particularly to those of us who are College Gameday fans. Lee Corso is famous for firing off a catchphrase of “Not so fast, my friend” when in disagreement with some of the football game predictions.
Not So Fast My Friends…
November is one of those months that can be as mild and warm as some August days and weeks…and it can be crazy snowy and cold. However, THIS particular November has really only been a bit fickle in terms of where the cold and snow has been falling.
Mountain communities in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland have only seen a dusting of snowfall to date, but that is NOT that unusual. In fact, Beech Mountain’s highest elevations in North Carolina have only AVERAGED 4.11″ of snow over decades of tracking. In fact, Beech has seen ZERO inches of snowfall during November in the years 1992, 2015, 2016 and several others.
Even snowy, West Virginia has seen as little as 0.5″ of snow during November of 2015. But of course we ALL want something more like the 43.1″ of snowfall that fell around Snowshoe, Canaan Valley and Timberline back in the 2005-2006 season.
Wanna know how THAT 2005-2006 winter snowfall season ended up? 166.2″ of snow…which was less than the 20 year average.
Check the SNOW REPORT any day during the season to see just how much snow each ski area has received to date. Currently, Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Mountain lead the way with 7.8″ on the season.
Let’s Talk Weather Forecasts and Cold Temperature Expectations
So it’s clear that the temps have not yet been conducive for snowmaking – whether from the heavens or from the very, expensive, snowmaking systems mounted at every ski area in the region. We have seen some snowmaking from various resorts on a few occasions this month, but only Snowshoe Mountain LOOKS like they could open today – however THEY are not making snow this morning.
WHY AREN’T THE RESORTS MAKING SNOW THIS MORNING!?!?!
It IS 24° at Appalachian and nothing’s going on, and they plan to open December 1st.
It is 21° at Beech and they too have the snowguns off and plan to open December 2nd.
It is 25° at Bryce Resort and they have more snow on the slopes than any ski area in North Carolina, and more than what you’ll find at Timberline Mountain in West Virginia…but there’s no snowmaking going on this morning. Opening Day is To Be Determined (TBD)
It is 25 at Canaan Valley Resort and they HAVE made more snow on more days in November than usual, but they are not making snow this morning. Opening day TBD.
It is 28° to 31° at Cataloochee Ski Area (depending on the weather station you trust) and they are not making snow. Cataloochee has made very little snow thus far as temps have just not cooperated. They DO plan to open for Snow Tubing on Saturday, December 2nd and with the forecast for 20° temps Monday through Wednesday nights, we COULD see some skiing and snowboarding later this week or weekend. Chris Bates and his crew want to play in the snow as much as their fans.
It is 34° at Hatley Pointe (formerly Wolf Ridge, formerly Wolf Laurel) and we don’t think that they have even tested the snow making plant just yet. Since getting everyone excited back in March about new ownership, they been pretty tight-lipped about anything new.
We have to admit that they have provided some cool TikTok posts and graphics, but no answers to anyone on social media asking questions. We’ve also reached out several times and received no response. Several people have posted asking about the LIVE CAMS, but their website has gone quiet over the last several weeks.
Check out this cool vibe video about being the East Coast’s Newest Ski Area:
…and now back to our alphabetical tour…
It is 36° at Massanutten Resort and they have made a ton of snow over the last couple of days and opening day is TBD.
Also check out this TIMELAPSE of SNOWMAKING AT MASSANUTTEN
It is 35° at Ober Mountain this morning and they are OPEN for SNOW TUBING, ICE SKATING AND MORE! Skiing and Snowboarding opening day is TBD.
It is 37° at Sapphire Valley in NC. They have made snow (shocking right?) and they plan to open December 16th.
It is currently 37° (as of 9:20am) at Snowshoe Mountain and as we have stated before, they are the only ski resort in the region that COULD open today. They plan to OPEN FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1st.
It is 36° at Sugar Mountain and they made snow over the last couple of days, mostly on the upper portions of the mountain. They started making some snow as temps allowed at the base of the mountain but there is not much to show for it as of 9:30am this Sunday morning. However, there’s been a lot of bets being thrown around and I even got a text this morning from our own, Kenny Griffin who thinks that Sugar will open Tuesday morning. Could it happen? Sure. Temperatures look great for tonight, most of Monday and Monday night so it COULD happen. I’m thinking Wednesday is more likely and that would STILL mean that Sugar Mountain Resort would be the first ski area in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic to open for the season…unless we see something special from up at Cataloochee.
It is 38° at The Homestead Resort (now Omni Homestead Resort) and they’ve had more natural snowfall than resorts in North Carolina, and they made a bit of snow (testing their systems), but opening day for them is a little closer to Christmas. Stay tuned for announcements.
Timberline Mountain – is the subject of many questions lately, but they have been quiet per their website and social media. Whereas Snowshoe Mountain and their next-door-neighbor Canaan Valley Resort have been making tons of snow, Timberline has not.
They DO have 2″ of natural snow in their forecast for the next 48 hours AND some 10-14° night time temperatures hitting Monday and Tuesday nights, so we could see them blast a blizzard across their core trails in very little time. Those kinds of temps allow for some maximum coverage opportunities. Stay tuned as Timberline Mountain’s opening day is TBD.
It is 34° at Wintergreen Resort and they made snow over the last 24 hours and have done so a few times recently. Opening Day is TBD.
It is 39° at Winterplace Resort and they have opted not to make snow thus far in November. They have paid close attention to the weather forecasts and patterns. Wisely so, as the temps have just not been there, however, the forecast for tonight through mid-week could prompt some snowmaking. Temps look cooperative as we get into December 6th or so as well.
It is 38° at Wisp Resort and they have had some dustings of natural snowfall and a few nights of snowmaking that still remains on the lower portion of their slopes. Cold temps are headed their way tonight through this week so we could see more snowmaking. Opening Day is TBD.
So WHEN Will All of the Resort Be Open!?!?!?!?!
Joe Stevens and I tend to think a lot alike. As I was putting the wraps on this resort-by-resort update, he emailed me his column for this week. Check it out. It is pretty much what I’ve been talking about within this FirsTrax post. In fact, he even repeated a phrase that I stole from television’s Kung Fu series and used last week in a post of my own.
The main theme of THIS post is that we HAVE been here before. Winter doesn’t OFFICIALLY begin until December 21st, as far as the Winter Solstice is concerned. Even meteorologically speaking, it doesn’t begin until Friday, December 1st. So stay tuned – it is going to happen and I think we’ll see some skiing & snowboarding happening this week at a few ski areas and certainly by Friday and Saturday of this week. We could see a bit of a challenge for some of these ski areas to STAY OPEN as temps may mild up a little, before turning more consistently colder as we get close to mid-to-late December.
The main hope and mindset needs to be to THINK COLD, THINK SNOW and let’s see if some of those Laws of Attraction kick in to manifest a good Christmas-to-New-Year start to the season and then hopefully we can sit back and enjoy a colder and snowier winter than average the rest of the way. We are certain to see some weather volatility as we get into January and February as well, but that TOO is normal.
Until next time, email me as you like at [email protected]
Be sure to check out the chatter about resort openings happening over on our new SkiSoutheast Discord Channel.
Also click here to Join Us on our New, SkiSoutheast Discord Channel. It is a GREAT way to meet new snow loving friends and shares experiences, ask questions and more!