Snow is Falling, Temps Are Dropping to Zero and Slope Totals are Rising!

First Trax

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There is cold and then there’s the kind of COLD that they had to come up with other names for. Names like FRIGID, icy, polar, shivery, etc. Others might be raw, cutting or as one guy wrote me – "stone-cold".

Well we’re getting into those kinds of categories today as temperatures are already beginning to reflect the kind of lows that our meteorologist buddies Brad Panovich and Matthew East have been telling us were on the way.

A Wind Chill Advisory has been posted by the NWS, as has a Winter Weather Advisory. We’re looking at maybe an inch or two of snow today according to the National Weather Service, but right now things look pretty out. COLD, but pretty!   (As of this 9am post it is now snowing in the High Country).

Gusty winds will be blowing and with winds in the 15-25 mph range and gusting to 35 mph, look for wind chills in the minus 10-15° range and maybe even lower for the North Carolina Mountains.

According to most of the forecasters, we should see temps creep up to maybe the 20-25° range for a high today and then nosedive to near ZERO tonight. The start to MLK weekend will be a frigid one with a high near 14° and then Friday night’s low dips back to near zero in some locations. Saturday looks nice with sunny skies and highs near 27° and lows in the teens. Then Sunday and Monday is looking like more light snow with highs in the 20s and lows in the teens.

For those planning to make a trip to the mountains within a day or so AFTER the MLK crowds leave, look for MORE COLD and some snow Tuesday with highs in the upper 20s and lows in the mid teens Tuesday. Wednesday is looking sunny with the same highs in the 20s and lows in the teens.

That means that for the next seven days (at least) all of the resorts could make snow around the clock if they want to. Some resorts have already announced that they will not be making snow during the MLK weekend.

Michael Hampton, from over at Wolf Ridge (yes we finally heard from someone over there!), wrote, "We wanted to let you guys know that we are opening Powder Hill and Whistling Dixie on Friday January 15th. Also, Wolf Ridge has made a commitment to not make snow through the MLK weekend."

Appalachian Ski Mountain had already announced that they will not be making snow during ski and snowboarding sessions. (Actually App hasn’t been making snow during sessions all this week.) I would think that some resorts would be making snow on unopen terrain, but the point is that we have some sweet temps with which all of the ski areas can blast away if they like.

(Not all resorts will adhere to the "not making snow" during sessions policy, so if you’re headed up to your favorite hill, be prepared with good clothing and goggles! See Wednesday’s story for some suggestions if you haven’t skied in these kinds of cold conditions.

Julie Stringer of Baltimore, Maryland asked us another question which provides us with yet another suggestion for you guys. She asked, "With these kinds of temperatures we’re headed to Wintergreen this weekend and I am sure they’ll be making snow. When they do that it always sticks to my glasses and I can’t see where I’m going. Do you have any suggestions?"

One of our guys here in our office was saying just the same thing the other day and he’s snowboarded for years and didn’t know that there is a great product that helps a bunch in situations like this. When the guns are cranking out snow (especially during very dry cold like we’re going to have this weekend) the snow does seem to attach itself quickly to the lens of your goggles, leaving you scraping away while trying to wind your way down the trails. While no product is perfect – there IS a product that I’ve always used that helps a ton. It is called "CAT CRAP". I know that a bunch of you are laughing thinking that I’m writing some lame attempt at humor…but in this case I am not. Cat Crap has been around for a few decades I think, but you can find it for maybe $3.00 at any ski or snowboard shop. The instructions say to smear a small amount on your lens and then buff it off with a soft cloth. That WILL help to keep your lens’ from fogging up and also prevent them from icing up with the snowguns blasting away. However I actually smear a heavier than instructed amount on them and then I barely rub it off. Try cleaning the Cat Crap off JUST ENOUGH so that your lens’ are clear to see, but leave enough on to be a light film. I have skied through some blinding snowmaking and exited with clear lens. Try that…


Let’s get to the slope report and quick tour for today and if I have time, before wrapping up I’ll share a quick story about "running a ski resort". If I run out of time this morning before wrapping this up – check back later today or tomorrow as I think a lot of you may enjoy it. (As you guys can tell, I write this stuff as I go and when time runs short – I quit and post it!)

Here we go:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 14° – 8 of 10 trails are open and both terrain parks. They will get the other two open by Saturday morning. App has a pretty cool deal going on for the locals when there are snow days. They are now Offering Snow Day Snowboard Rental Rates. Since the 1960’s, Appalachian Ski Mtn. has offered a special rate when school is canceled due to snow. Elementary and high school students, teachers, and staff in Watauga County and adjoining counties of Caldwell, Ashe, Avery, Wilkes, and Johnson Co., TN can take advantage of these rates by showing proof of residency and schooling (i.e. report cards/pay stubs w/ drivers license or utility bill).

Appalachian is pleased to now offer a half price snowboard rental rate on snow days. This new offer is a result of the increase in the snowboard rental inventory enabled by the expansion of Appalachian’s snowboard rental area. In the past, the snowboard inventory was not sufficient to meet the demands of regular and potential snow day rental interest.

Bottom line is that you can get a ski ticket for $8 if you’re a local schooler on snow days and if you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent skis for $4 or a snowboard for as little as $12.

P-r-e-t-t-y c-o-o-l.

Cataloochee Ski Area – 14° – They have opened two more trails for today and now have 11 of 14 trails open. Tammy (I’m always smiling) Brown writes, "YIPPEE!!!!! the cold is here and just in time for a GREAT weekend – we will be open from the top of the mountain on the Upper Snowbird Trail on Thursday and have also moved all the terrain features UP the mountain to their rightful home in the Cat Cage Terrain Park on lower Alley Cat for Thursday as well!"

She adds, "Please note and let your people know that the quad lift going to 3/4 of the mountain will not operate on Thursday but the Omigosh Double Chairlift will be taking skiers and riders to the top of the mountain or unloading at midstation on Thursday."

(Consider them notified.)

Tammy also shared, "We anticipate opening the Advanced UPPER OMIGOSH on Friday, January 16 and open 100% of the mountain including our two new trails that were cut last season – Short ‘n’ Sweet and Turkey Trot (aptly named for the multitude of wild turkeys found there!) on SATURDAY! all in time for the MLK holiday weekend."

There you have it – Cataloochee will be 100% open by Saturday.

That’s two for two. Let’s see what we have with the rest of the resorts:

We watched two park groomers hitting Hawksnest’s Tubing lanes this morning and they look pretty nice today. The park is open today.

Sapphire Valley is closed as is normal for Thursdays, but they will be 100% for Friday from noon until 10pm. Both slopes for skiing and riding will be open and the Frozen Falls Tubing Park.

That’s three for three.

Ski Beech – 8° – They are still holding at 5 of 15 trails open with Packed Natural and Manmade conditions. We spoke with Ryan Costin on Wednesday amidst some complaints about Beech "not making enough snow" and he said that they ARE making snow on Upper and Lower Robbins Run and they plan to open them soon. That may happen as early as Friday morning. If not, then look for them to open on Saturday AM. We have previously reported that Beech has been somewhat handicapped with snowmaking capacity due to one pump which has been down all season. Costin stated, "I am in Charlotte working on some other plans for improvements to the Village area, but the pump is supposed to be delivered today (Wednesday) and you can bet that Bob Webb (head of snowmaking at Beech) will be getting that installed ASAP."

That WILL allow for more guns to be placed and with the weather forecasted, Beech should be able to open more terrain soon.

Beech is making snow on their new snow tubing hill as well and we’re hearing from a bunch of people that hope that they can get White Lightning and Southern Star open soon.

We’re also hearing from many messageboard members like "bfeller", "Zeus" and others who are showing their support for the changes at Ski Beech by committing to skiing there due to the reports on this website alone. As we speak, one of our board members is planning a Ski Beech Summit to hit up Beech in February. We’ll share more about that in the days to come.

(As I was posting this very paragraph, Ryan Costin just contacted me and shared, "Hey Mike, the pump will definately be ready early next week as we await one part being shipped from Arkansas. We feel confident that Robbins will open on Friday and we are planning to open White Lightning next."

There you heard it from the man himself. He also shared that the new tubing park will make its debut on Saturday and the Full-featured Terrain Park On Powder Bowl Opens Saturday and will remain there for the season. Beech also has a new Village Fire Pit that will be operating this weekend. There will be Live music in Beechtree Saturday Night from Soul Benefactor from 9pm-midnight.

Don’t forget that Beech also brings back WINTERFEST WITH THE BATHING BEAUTIES and Cardboard Box Derby next weekend.

Sugar Mountain – 7° – They are holding with 14 of 20 trails, tubing and ice skating all open. Sugar posts, "Temperatures today will be in the mid to upper teens and lows tonight around -2 degrees. Expect falling temperatures and snow flurries throughout the day. Snowmaking is currently in progress and will continue as long as conditions allow. The left side of Big Red is open again today. With cold weather and snow in the forecast for the next week, look for more slopes to open soon!"

Wolf Ridge – 9° – They may not be a giant, but we woke up a sleeping wolf as Wolf Ridge has updated their snow totals to reflect the accurate figure of 21" on the season after 2" of natural snow feel through yesterday morning. They are also reporting two more open slopes to make it 10 open of 20 available. They also have tubing open and they are reporting that they are making snow.

(Good to have you back you big, bad Wolf! Send us some pics!)

There should be some snow flying out and about today and some nice conditions no matter where you choose to slide.

Enjoy your day!

Until Next time…

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