The Calm Before the Storm? We Certainly Hope So.

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As I was checking out the various weather stations around the southeast and mid-Atlantic this morning I DID get a bit of a surprise. While I didn’t expect to see any snowmaking going on, there WAS some happening at the base of Silver Creek and the bottom of the Ballhooter lift on Snowshoe Mountain.

The temperatures were just cold enough down at the base (27°) for them to get in a little bit of early morning snowmaking.

However, by 8:20am or so, even those guns were turned off. The snowmaking system was also off at the top of their mountain with a temperature inversion going on. While temps at the base were around 27°-30°, the top was at 37° by 8:45am. One look at David Lesher’s Canaan Valley Weather showed that Timberline and Canaan Valley Resort saw a low of 27° this morning.

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The Top of Snowshoe Mountain awaits cold and snow that is on the way!

Just for the record, none of the other ski resorts in the region were able to make snow. Sugar Mountain Resort saw a low this morning of 36° and even Gunther can’t do his magic with those temps.

However, all of that is about to change and in a BIG WAY. Temperatures are forecasted to take a nose dive later in the day on Monday and dip to a low of 17° overnight Monday into Tuesday atop Snowshoe Mountain. The NWS is already predicting some accumulation of snow there late on Monday and then from 4-8″ of natural snow Monday night into Tuesday.

A look further South to Cataloochee Ski Area and Maggie Valley shows that lows should drop down to 19° or so Monday night and allow for around-the-clock snowmaking there through Wednesday and overnight snowmaking each night through the long-range forecast. In terms of natural snow – right now – the NWS is forecasting only a couple of inches of snow. Ditto that for Beech Mountain with lows a notch colder into the 17° Monday night and highs allowing for snowmaking through sometime on Friday.

This is significantly below what meteorologist Brad Panovich was sharing on Saturday – see: Saturday’s SkiSoutheast News

However, this is a northwest flow, snow event, so we are likely to see things perform a bit higher than the NWS will usually forecast. I’m certain that Brad will update us as things get a lot closer on Monday.

For those of you who are reading this update – the main thing to know is that right NOW, no ski area is open in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Fast forward to next Thursday and Friday and we will see several ski areas open as the snowmaking plants at all of our resorts can put down some serious base depths in primo conditions.

On a cold 17°, where the wet-bulb temps are perfect, our ski resorts can cover a football field with two FEET of snow in a 10-12 span. All of the ski resorts in our region have heavily invested in snowmaking tech over the last decade, adding more and newer machines annually.

When conditions are right, Snowshoe can produce 2,500 TONS of snow per hour. If that wasn’t enough, in 2018, Snowshoe invested another $4 MILLION dollars into their snowmaking by installing automation hardware / software and picking up another 165 snow guns to their already hulking arsenal. This includes 90 low-energy “stick” guns and 75 fixed position, low-energy, high-production DemacLenko Titan 2.0 snow guns — the most powerful currently on the market.

While not every resort in the region has added those kinds of numbers, just know that every ski resort in our region has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latest and greatest and that is why resorts like Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee were able to open within two days of making snow a week or so ago…and with the cold temps that are on the way for THIS WEEK, I’d expect to see some near, miraculous mountain transformations.

Want to see an example? Kenny Griffin setup this timelapse at Wisp Resort a couple of years ago. Check it out.

Bizzare huh?

So we are about 36 hours away from cold and snow…so let’s pull together and…


Until Next Time.

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