First Trax

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Just a bunch of disconnected thoughts today…

You guys are going to think that I woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning. I promise that isn’t the case, but I opened up my "skiMail" inbox and WHAM – I was hit with all sorts of not-so-great news to share.

Before I get into the grumpy news this morning, let me assure you that conditions today through Monday and really through the next week will be quite nice for those of us who love to ski and ride. Conditions will be VERY NICE no matter where you are headed.

There are indications that the week ahead may bring some "under-developed" snow…but the next few days look decent even into the week ahead.

After that? Well, that’s where the inbox-mongers "bad news" comes in. Mike Stinneford of Washington DC, who is a regular on our websites, (and a DC weatherman, reporter…and all-around nice guy) wasn’t spreading good cheer with his forecast for the rest of February into March for our region.

He wrote, "As you noted, conditions should be good this weekend. An arctic cold front will bring in some cold temps Sunday. Unfortunately, this cold weather is not going to last. After Monday, many resorts may have little or no chance of making snow for up to two weeks. I’m afraid that Sapphire Valley may not reopen this season, and it’s going to get ugly at most North Carolina resorts within 7 days. Virginia and Maryland resorts may fare a little better, but they will also face a challenging couple of weeks.

With La Nina staying strong, March could be chilly with some snow. My feeling is that March is going to be a heart-breaking month for skiers, with some snow, but also some big warm-ups. I also have a feeling that portions of the southeast and the mid-Atlantic will be dealing with some severe weather, especially mid to late March.

To sum up, temperatures are going to be critical the next two weeks. A couple of degrees colder than forecasted, and most areas will be able to make snow at night and keep acceptable conditions. A couple of degrees warmer, and we’ll all be riding our mountain bikes and playing golf and wondering what happened to winter.

Talk to you soon.

Mike Stinneford"

Mike, DON’T EVER write me again! (Unless you have good news to share!) Mike’s long range forecasts have been pretty accurate, but I have to add that what he is forecasting for the REST of the season is quite honestly what we’ve seen for the ENTIRE season. Cold, snow, warm, thaw, rain, cold, snow, ice, mild, rain, cold…

All of our Southeast resorts have had a roller coaster season with more than the usual thaw periods and conditions that approached "Spring Conditions" in the midst of winter. However, there is no question that resorts in Maryland and West Virginia have not had the fight to maintain good conditions that resorts into Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina have had. Appalachian has kept the best, most consistent conditions south of the West Virginia line, with Sugar a "somewhat" close second…and Cataloochee right in that mix. However, the rest of the ski areas in the region have had to work hard to provide a good product for their fans.

Right now – today – everybody is looking pretty good. The last month has been really quite nice at all of the resorts with only a few days of less than pristine conditions at resorts like Beech, Wolf Ridge and Hawksnest. Prior to the last few weeks, Beech had more marginal days that they had good ones.

Resorts northward into WV and MD have had the best of the weather and that holds true for this weekend as well. If Mike Stinneford is right, the next couple of weeks will begin to make for some marginal conditions for some ski areas again.

It HAS been one that has kept of lot of us regulars only hitting the snow during the peak days. Yours truly has been on the snow for only 13 days thus far of the season. …and I am hoping for more! THINK COLD.


My inbox contained the following news from the National Weather Service office:





Gary Couse shared this bit of news about Wolf Ridge, "I went to Wolf Ridge yesterday morning. Upon arriving there I was informed that the mountain was not open at the top. I therefore could not ski from the front side to the back trails. I left and went to Cataloochee. Skied at Cataloochee yesterday and today. Getting home tonight I checked your slope reports and the Wolf Ridge website and they both show things open to the top, which definitly is not true. I think it’s the last time I’ll attempt to ski Wolf Ridge."

Thanks for the insight Gary. THAT is why you guys are so important to this website. When you guys share input into what YOU find at resorts, we share that and it makes US look good.

Since we also had 14 additional emails on the same subject we put in a call to Wolf this morning and they DID say that they had the connector trails closed on Wednesday, and perhaps sporadically on Thursday as they were "patching" things up, but they ARE OPEN TO THE TOP and the connector trails ARE open today.

(You guys let us know if we got it wrong though!)


How about this one:

NOAA just released information to say that January was the 49th coldest January in the United States in 114 years!

A guy in Detroit was quoted yesterday on Fox News saying that he had not seen his car in more than a month. They have seen three times more snow than normal and some of the drifts have kept vehicles covered for more than a month!


…and our part of the country is seeing a continued roller coaster of mild, then cold, then mild, then cold. Thankfully conditions are great right now.

(I HAD to add that, didn’t I?)

The West Virginia and Maryland Ski Areas are getting the bulk of the better weather right now – again. Canaan Valley reported light flurries again at 4am this morning, which is what they have been reporting for the last two evenings. They have 14 trails open.

Timberline Resort, located one ridge away has seen the same TRACE of snow and they too look very nice with 29 trails open today.

Snowshoe Mountain has 57 trails open and is in great condition with snow forecasted for today and Sunday. They made snow overnight and with a high of 32° today and with Sunday’s high of only 15° forecasted…we see more snowmaking as well!

Up to 5" of snow is forecast for the West Virginia mountains.

Winterplace is seeing sunny skies and 28 trails open for today, and some snow is in their forecast for this evening!

None of the Virginia Resorts made snow last night, but conditions are holding up quite well and snowmaking is on the way Saturday night. Wintergreen and Massanutten would get our nod for tops in Virginia.

Appalachian and Sugar Mountain looks like THE TOP picks in North Carolina today, but conditions are sweet at Cataloochee as well. Hawksnest looks very nice on their 9 trails of open terrain which includes Sock Em Dog.

Sapphire Valley IS closed this weekend. They are open for TUBING however.

Ski Beech made snow about 24 hours ago and looks pretty good right now with 12 trails open today. They will have frozen granular conditions today…and NOT the packed powder they are reporting. The snow looks good there today and conditions will hold nicely for the weekend.

Enjoy your day…I’m going to be beat my head against a wall. JUST KIDDING MOM!

Until Next time…

Be sure to visit  for more news from the rest of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas!

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