The Heat is On

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The next few days are going to have you doing a double take when looking at the calendar.  A full on spring preview is in store as temperatures are going to be in the 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s for some ski areas.  Is it really February?

For the second time this winter we are in the midst of a significant thaw.  The last few days have been mild and yesterday brought about some rain early on as well.  I was able to go and run 5+ miles outside after work for the first time since November thanks to the warmth and extended daylight.  It was nice I won’t lie.  I forgot how much harder it is to run outside than on a treadmill though.

The next two days are going to be even milder and more reminiscent of April.  High temps are going to be ridiculously warm for this time of year and spring skiing conditions are in full effect.  If you are getting some turns in today or tomorrow you can expect soft, slushy now.  Spring corn if you will.

Those temperatures are going to be running double digits above normal.  The average temperature for today at Snowshoe is 49 degrees.  The National Weather Service has a high of 60 today.  The average high temperature for Banner Elk, NC, which is home to Sugar Mountain with Beech Mountain nearby, is 45 degrees.  Today the high temperature is forecasted to be 58 degrees. Woof.

The wet and mild conditions over the past few days hasn’t done too much of a hurtin’ on the resorts thus far.  Sapphire Valley and Ober Gatlinburg both closed for the season, but for the most part things seem to be holding up well.  So far anyways.  We might start to see some announcements in the coming days about end of season hours and what not.  For example, Massanutten just posted this about night skiing ending this weekend.

Snow Season Update: We are nearing the end of another ski season. It looks like Saturday will be the last day that night...

Posted by Massanutten Resort on Thursday, February 23, 2017

Most ski areas are reporting a drop of a couple inches and some trails have been lost.  Most notably, Snowshoe and Winterplace are now not quite at 100% open.  That said, the Shoe still has 54 open trails and Winterplace still has 25.  They lead the region in open trail count right now.

The next few days will see some accelerated melting though due to the warmer temps.  One thing to consider for this time of the year is that the sun angle is much higher than earlier on in winter.  Last month in the midst of the Great January Thaw of 2017 (January 15th), the sun angle in the Beech/Sugar Mountain area peaked at 32.9 degrees.  Today, it will be 44.3 degrees.  That means the sun’s rays will be over 33% more intense today than last month on that date I mentioned.  There’s your weather geek stat of the day.

As I mentioned, if you do get out and ski or snowboard today you will be treated to some nice spring conditions and beautiful views.  Here are a couple photos from Wintergreen and Massanutten over the past few days.  The snow still looks good!

A Brief Shot of Colder Air This Weekend

We’re still on track for colder air to briefly return this weekend.  If you have a long weekend planned the difference between Friday and Sunday is going to be rather drastic with temperatures over 20 degrees colder on Sunday.  Saturday night and Sunday night should both provide a snowmaking window for many of the ski areas in the region.  Sunday looks borderline for around the clock snowmaking.  It might be just a tad too warm though.

After that, another warmup is in store for the first half of next week before another cold shot arrives.  Just in time for the Snowshoe Summit!

Whatever happens with the weather, get out and get some turns in while you can.  As I said the other day, I have a feeling it’s going to be an early season for many resorts which means there are only 2-3 weeks left for most.  It is weird to type that and then I remember what I read last night about Squaw Valley in Tahoe.  They are going to be open through July 4th.  That means their season isn’t even halfway over.  What?!

Enjoy the spring preview people.  But still be thinking cold and snow!

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