First Trax

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As we were compiling the notes for this morning’s early slope conditions updates we were still seeing some areas in the 50s, some had dropped into the 40s and the temps at Timberline and Wisp were in the 30s. While we still have to weather another day of milder than normal temps across much of the region…some portions of the Southeast will see temps returning to more winter-like status as early as later this evening.

Laura Parquette of Snowshoe Mountain writes, "Temperatures will continue to drop throughout the day today, and we hope to begin making snow by tonight. There is also natural snow in the forecast, with significant accumulation being predicted. These conditions will make the opening of the Silver Creek area on Friday that much better. As we continue to expand our terrain, we expect to open up to 9 new trails, night skiing and the tubing park! Today, Snowshoe will be offering 17 trails, three lifts and 5 features in the Spruce Glades Terrain Park. Beginning this weekend, the resort will begin to come alive with Christmas activities and animation sure to please your family. From December 14 through January 1, we have a full schedule of family-friendly events in the Big Top and throughout the Village. Also expected in the next few weeks is the ribbon cutting on our three new trails. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, they should be open for skiing and riding before Christmas."

Snowshoe should see temps fall to about 28° tonight and then 23° or so Friday night and that means snowmaking. Saturday through at least Monday should be snowy and provide around the clock snowmaking.

The same basic weather pattern (tweaked only a degree or two) is in store for all of the West Virginia resorts and Wisp Resort in Maryland.


The inquality of Mother Nature’s provision of winter continues across the region. I have been doing the morning reports and updates every morning for every ski area on this website for the last 11 seasons (this season being my 12th) and I can tell you that about 90% of the time when you checked the temperatures at Beech Mountain, they would be almost identical to Wisp in Maryland and within a degree or so of most resorts such as Winterplace…with Snowshoe and Timberline perhaps being maybe 5° or so colder. The start to this season has been a strange one thus far and you can tell that the line that divides the temperature variances is such that ski areas from Winterplace Resort in Ghent, West Virginia and UP…have been consistently 5-10° colder than those south. There have been nearly TWICE as many days of snowmaking ops for those same ski areas north, than those south of that "line". It has been a weird start for certain.

The same is true for today. While Snowshoe may get to make snow tonight with temps dropping to 28°, Ski Beech, Sugar, Hawksnest and Cataloochee will probably bottom out to around 34° tonight…or just out of snowmaking range.

The Virginia and North Carolina resorts will see temps drop into the 20s on Saturday night with some snow in the forecast. Sunday is when things get REALLY COLD across the board with Banner Elk (home to Sugar Mountain and Hawksnest) looking at highs in the 20s and lows around 15°! By the way, that compares almost equally with the forecast for Snowshoe Mountain.

Monday should be cold with a high around freezing and lows in the teens. GREAT FOR SNOWMAKING!

Tuesday and Wednesday nights should bring more snowmaking temps in the low to mid 20s.


It is now apparent who we should blame for the late start to winter in the state of North Carolina. An insider who works up at the resort stated emphatically that Gil Adams’ wife’s, uncle’s, brother has a great friend who has a VERY CLOSE relationship with a young woman, who knows someone who is a second cousin to someone who is occasionally able to get a word with Mother Nature.

Our source, albeit nine levels deep, states that Beech asked Mother Nature to hold off a bit on the start of the really cold temps until they could get some new snowguns delivered. Around noon on Wednesday a huge truck delivered six new York Snowmaking Machines. I spoke with Ski Beech Marketing Director, Gil Adams this morning and he told me that those machines were already being transported up the hill and onto Freestyle. Adams stated, "It looks like we may get to put them into action pretty soon, Saturday, and crank out a ton of snow!"

Adams’ speculated (nothing official here) but he figured with good snowmaking opportunities coming in the weekend, that they could probably open back up on Monday, but thought that they might wait another day or so (Tuesday or Wednesday).


Now maybe we can get some consistent cold temps and snow to kick the 2007-2008 season into full gear. It will nice to see what kind of snow these additional machines will crank out at Ski Beech. A Valle Crucis friend of mine who is the third cousin of a lady who knows…JUST KIDDING! One of my Valle Crucis friends (Skyler) lives up on Beech and is a member of the Ski Beech Ski Patrol and he and his daughter, Naomi told me that they skied a ton of runs on Friday and Friday evening and that the snow was simply great after just a couple of days of snowmaking. So maybe with the new machines that they put into service last season, COMBINED with these newly delivered ones, Ski Beech can blast away beginning Saturday and make for some sweet conditions.


In terms of even the ski resorts in the Southeast with the best of conditions…there is no question that every resort in the region is in need of some cold air, snow and a consistent return to Winter. Snowshoe Mountain with 16 trails and Wisp in Maryland with 11 open trails have the most terrain open, but nobody is doing any real bragging about how pristine the conditions are. Resorts such as Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock, North Carolina are open with five trails and probably the best conditions in the state (with a base of 10-26") have not made snow for several days. In fact App has not had the snowguns operating since December 6th and this week of light rain, and near early summer temperatures has paid a price. While Appalachian still looks pretty good, the other resort in the area (Sugar Mountain) looks like it should be closed. For those that might think we are taking a swipe at Gunther…think again…HE would tell you that himself. They are open for the hardcore, handful that might want to ride today…and they are open to keep the 37 consecutive day skiing streak alive. From what we’ve heard, Sugar is even telling people at the ticket windows to have a look before purchasing a lift ticket. You would have to want it bad…to ski at Sugar today.

The way it’s looking right now… areas up around Sugar, Hawksnest and Beech MIGHT get cold enough to make snow beginning Friday night, but it is going to be a close call. Snowmaking might now begin until Saturday night in the North Carolina and Virginia mountains as temps are forecasted to drop into the 20s sometime Saturday. That is about the same time that SNOW should be falling across the region. So Sunday and Monday will see vastly improved conditions.

Thursday will bring to an end a four day period that has seen temperatures that have been nearly 15° above normal for the area. The North Carolina Mountains should see SNOW on Saturday continuing into Sunday. Sunday and Monday will be MUCH colder.

In closing, I don’t want to get too caught up in all of the talk about HOW MUCH snow we’re going to get. We’ll see…but the main thing is it is looking great for snowmaking for next week and that means more terrain openings!  Forecasters are divided on how much snow will fall this weekend…so let’s all THINK COLD…and PRAY FOR SNOW!

Until Next Time…Send your comments, photos and videos to: [email protected]  

See You On The Slopes!

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