Ten to Fourteen Inches of Snow is Forecasted for this Weekend! Plan Ahead!

First Trax

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As I looked out of my back window this morning I noticed heavy snow clouds building over the ridgetops of Seven Devils. I wondered if the snow might be coming in quicker than Brad Panovich and other meteorologists had forecasted. Then I walked out to my truck and quickly discovered that it was 40° outside!

I quickly checked some of the forecasted lows for this morning and couldn’t find any references to temperatures being like they are this morning and my concern increased as I began to think that perhaps the approaching storm might be an all rain event. After all, the forecasted low for today according to most that I saw 24 hours ago was 24° for this morning. The HIGH forecasted for today was 42°. Of course it is STILL forecasted to be colder each of the next several days ahead with forecasted highs in the 20s and 30s and lows in the teens and 20s.

However, like MANY of our readers, I am so prone to thinking the worst when it comes for snowy forecasts. So I investigated further.

I checked to see what the actual low temp was this morning and guess what? It was 25° at Sugar and 24° at Snowshoe Mountain. While it is 40° here at our offices, it is 21.4° atop Beech Mountain this morning and 25° at the summit of Sugar. The base temp at Sugar? 35.6°. Friends that is a TEN DEGREE difference in the 1400′ vertical from the top to the bottom.

With all of the inversions that we’ve seen over the last few years (and even this season) it is kind of cool to see the elevations affecting temps the way they’re supposed to!


WINTER STORM WATCHES have been issued for all of our mountain communities of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic with the expectation of plenty of moisture moving into the area by Friday afternoon. The arctic air is plowing down into the region and most all forecasters are now agreeing with Brad Panovich that we’ll see some major accummulations from this approaching snowstorm.


Snow will begin early on Friday in West Virginia and by mid afternoon we should see snow across the entire region. The heaviest snow will fall Friday night and Saturday morning which is right on par with Brad’s forecast that he posted Tuesday night. Other forecasters are now in full agreement with that forecast. Some were forecasting significant snow but not quite what Brad was sharing with us. Now most weather gurus are all forecasting 10" or more between now and Sunday morning. 10-14" seems to be the general thought right now and we’re certain to hear from Brad tonight with an update.

As we stated on Wednesday – the TIMING of this snow storm is nearly perfect for those of you who are coming to the mountains for a great ski weekend. If you can leave an hour or two earlier from whatever flatlander location you’re in so that you’ll get to your resort destination by mid to late afternoon on Friday you’ll have easy travel. Then hunker down with all the snow bombing the area and then hit that POW POW all day Saturday and Sunday. By the time you’re ready to head back home the DOT crews will have the roads clear as a newborn baby’s complexion!

As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared".

If you’re travelling up on Friday don’t let what we’re posting here this morning alarm you, but it is always best to be prepared. DOT crews will be salting the roadways and there is no question that our ski area approach roads will all be easily driveable. If you have or can borrow a 4WD all the better. If not, then get chains and don’t wait until you get to the mountains because when snow approaches like we have coming in – chains go off the shelves faster the loaves of bread in your hometown when snow begins to fall.

Yes, some of the automotive stores may have some, but don’t count on it. If you can’t find chains then make sure you have good tires and know how to navigate in the snow. As stated, the main highways and roads will be decent but don’t count on the roads to your lodging or cabin rentals being in pristine shape.

This is why we ALL travel to the mountains. We want to see SNOW, right? Well if you’re headed up this weekend, you’re in great luck. Just be prepared and you’ll enjoy the heck out of your trip.

We want all our readers to get to and from their destinations with minimum trouble and maximum enjoyment — and, most importantly, to always arrive safe and sound, no matter what sort of snow you may encounter. To that end, here are some tips, tactics and ideas to help you avoid spending your winter stuck on the side of the road. These tips are not as geared towards driving tips as they are WINTER TRAVEL TIPS…

1. Put some extra clothing and emergency items in your vehicle. These will come in handy if you break down or get stuck in very cold weather. Assemble a basic kit including a pair of gloves, weather-resistant pants and/or coat, maybe an old pair of boots, a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight with some extra batteries, and a windshield scraper (and maybe a de-icer). Make sure your cell phone is fully charged but don’t count on having cell connections because the mountains are notorious for cell outages. A good tow rope and matches are helpful. If you’re a camper, take along your latern and any supplies that might come in handy.

2. Your body needs more nourishment in cold weather than it does on a balmy summer day. Avoid candy bars and other quick-sugar-release snacks. You might toss a few nutrition bars in your things and thermos with warm drink or soup might come in handy.

3. Make sure your car is checked over for winter weather readiness. In particular, you or a mechanic should check your tires before heading to the mountains, especially when heavy snow is forecasted.

4. Slow down. The Department of Transportation recommends slowing down by about 50 percent in very bad weather; additionally, leave extra space between you and the car in front of you. When approaching steep uphill stretches increase your speed a bit to allow your momentum to carry you up. If you begin very slow you might find that you might lose traction and no amount of revving on the gas will carry you to the top. Slow and steady is the way to go.

5. Take your time going DOWNHILL. 4WD doesn’t help you so much when you’re headed down a steep hill.

As you’ll note, I didn’t go into the kind tips that cover the possible trauma of being stranded in a snow storm off the roads in isolated locations because if you’re reading this post you’re not headed to Mt. Hood or some scenario that might have you stranded in a five foot bank of snow. Regardless it never hurts to be prepared.

We’ve covered this many times on the website in the past but once you’re here and readying yourself to head out to the slopes themselves, wear plenty of layers, have some good gloves and face & head gear and you’ll have a GREAT time all day long. Highs are forecasted this weekend in the teens and 20s so – yes I’ll say it again – be prepared. If you don’t do anything else – stop in at a good ski and snowboard shop and invest in a good pair of gloves and a balaclava and your body will thank you.

Check the SNOW REPORT page for all the details of slope openings for today and check back here often over the next 24-36 hours as we’ll keep you updated with the best weather information as we receive it.


I had the pleasure of skiing at Sugar Mountain on Wednesday evening and the conditions could NOT have been better. Okay, maybe a foot of powder would have been better but you know what I mean. Sugar’s talented crew had as many as four groomers out on the slopes from top to bottom during the break between sessions. (We received too many emails in the last couple of weeks from visitors to some of the other ski areas where they did not groom between sessions.) Sugar ALWAYS does a fabulous job of grooming.

They had some of the snowmaking crew out hooking up some of the big fan guns at around 6pm and the guns were blasting from top to bottom once the night session began. We had rock star parking within about 40 yards from the ticket window and a short walk and about three minutes later we were the first at the lift when they dropped the ropes to make some first tracks on that freshly groomed corduroy.

The snow was packed and fast. I rode up with my daughter who made the point that the lift ride up took a half an hour. Teenagers and some others who have posted such comments on the messageboard tend to exaggerate so I figured I put us on the clock. Sixteen minutes later we were at the top. She and I scorched the mile and a half Switchback to Upper and Lower Flying Mile run and arrived at the bottom four minutes later. As we were riding up again the thought occurred to me that if she and I rode to the top and raced to the bottom as fast as we could that we’d spend 48 minutes of every hour on the lift and only 12 minutes on the snow. At three runs an hour a person could get in 12 trips down in a four hour night session. Of course everything changes if you’re skiing or riding on a busy day session when you might spend fifteen, twenty or even thirty minutes in a lift line.

But then another thought hit me – doesn’t just thinking along these lines screw up what we’re out here for anyway? I mean shouldn’t we just be enjoying the ability to just get out and make some nice turns and enjoy the wind in your face, etc?

My daughter actually made a pretty cool argument for not skiing so well (or fast) when she added, "Ya know, if you ski slower and take more time to get to the bottom, ya might get more skiing time for you money!"

Someone with a better grasp of math and more time on their hands can play with those numbers. As for she and I – we enjoyed the rest of our night on the snow. It was awesome. After a few trips down from top to bottom – we skied over to Big Red and really enjoyed the right side (facing the mountain) of the hill as the snow guns were mostly on the other side.

Anyway, hats off to Sugar for some awesome conditions on Wednesday night.

We have a busy day ahead of us and we’re putting final touches on the planning of both SkiNC and SkiSoutheast Summits and we’ll debut all those plans by Monday. So if you’re planning on hanging with us for either of the summits, you’ll want to check back Monday for that information.

We’re on day 61 and there are 76 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!

That’s it for today. Check out the Snow Report at https://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php  and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

SSAA: 1 for 61/several/self 59/61

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