What a beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL day it is today. Conditions are simply borderline EPIC across the ski resorts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic this morning. This weekend should be nothing short of awesome no matter where you choose to ski or ride today, this weekend, and for the next couple of weeks!
(Today’s lead photo is from this morning at Canaan Valley Resort. Check it above and further down in this post!)
I remember thinking – back before this season began – as crazy, dark and crapping as 2020 has been for all of us – I wondered what kind of yuck could this calendar year throw at us for the ski & snowboarding season. As I read over all of the long-range, pre-season, winter forecasts – and noted all of the evidence of a strong La Niña influence – I just knew that “2020” was going to throw more challenges our way.
Most of those same forecasts predicted a slow start to winter for much of December. Man am I SO glad they were wrong. Our own Meteorologist, Brad Panovich DID talk about how this winter would provide huge swings from cold to warm to cold and warm all season long, AND we do still have a long winter ahead of us with all of January, February and March to work with.
Brad also shared that all of the forecasts of a warmer and dryer La Niña winter COULD be greatly different IF different damming effects fell into place. (See one such damming to the right.)
Those patterns have been on display and December 2020 will go on record as a very, VERY nice month for ski resorts and snow-loving fans across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. The forecast for the rest of this month is for continued cold and many chances for snow! Many of our mountain communities will see a White Christmas!
Not only have we seen 15-30″ of snow at six of our resorts in the region, we have also seen cold, snow making temperatures all month long. I checked some weather archives for December and case-in-point would be atop Beech Mountain, where through this morning (and 19 days into the month) they have experienced 14 of those 19 days with awesome, snowmaking opportunities. Sixteen of the seventeen resorts in the region have recorded measurable snowfall.
There have been SOME challenges with snowmaking at the Virginia ski areas, but thankfully they too have had some sweet, cold temps and lots of natural snow.
Snowmaking Last Night Offered Some Snow Globe Clouds and Lavender Skies
I am certain to catch some grief from this, as I have no images (from last night) to share. However, I was kind of in a hurry to make a Christmas party on time (last night) and as I drove past Sugar Mountain Resort and up Highway 184, I witnessed some beautiful, low-hanging, wisps of clouds hovering right over most of Sugar Mountain and then away towards Beech Mountain. It was evident that the refrigeration effect and massive snowmaking that was happening – was creating these unusual snow globes. The skies above those globes and clouds were a mix of lavender and orange. It was truly beautiful and as I am typing this post, I regret that I can’t share images of that phenomenon. Chances are, the lens would not have done them justice.
The mixture of 19° temperatures, ground-effect snow refrigeration, the immense snow-making clouds and the beautiful evening sky was awesome, awesome. On top of that, we had a larger-than-normal, crescent moon hanging over all of that. On top of Old Farm Road in Banner Elk there was a sweet, view of Sugartop as well.
Again, I am sure I will catch some grief from sharing this description without photo proof. I’ll try to do better. I would normally have had my GoPro 7 on me, but I had JUST given that away to one of my staff, and I have not yet opened a Christmas present that I already know contains a new GoPro 9 – so hence I was camera-less other than my iPhone.
However, here are some sweet shots from this morning! (Click to Enlarge any of them.)
We’ve Been Telling You How Busy Our Mountains Have Been This Summer, Fall (and now) Winter
All of our mountain communities have experience MUCH heavier-than-usual traffic in terms of visitors all summer long. The Fall Color season was way busier than I have ever seen it. Highways, byways and mountain towns were packed with visitors. Most lodging and accommodations clients that I work with ALL shared that they were way more booked up than usual. So many people were either out of work with money (due to Covid) OR had jobs that allowed them to work remotely. When you have the option of working or having your children “in school” while traveling – you do it. I can tell you that tens of thousands of travelers are doing just that.
I have been speaking with mountain ops crews, owners, managers and marketing peeps at our ski resorts in the region and they are ALL sharing the same message. Some resorts (like Appalachian) are requiring that lift tickets be purchased a day in advance and online. Most ALL now are STRONGLY suggesting that you do that.
One ski area VP asked me not to quote him directly, but told me that I should probably share, “Mike, we’re seeing a lot more interest than we’ve seen in years and with everything going on right now (covid) you know walk-up ticket purchasing is going to be limited. I think we may see that all season long.”
He shared that calls for last minute reservations for lodging has been off the charts.
If you are reading this story and are planning to do a ski/snowboard getaway this season, DO NOT wait until the last second as you might be out of luck. Plan ahead. Call ahead! Call NOW!
Another bit of proof of demand is that Ober Gatlinburg’s Snow Tubing Park is already SOLD OUT through January 3rd!
I’m telling you guys…plan ahead and BOOK NOW!
Here are some Additional Shares this Morning!
Sweet vid from Wintergreen Resort
Nice report from Sierra at Snowshoe Mountain
SNOWSHOE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
Full Snow Report for Today
I was long-winded today, but there’s some good stuff in there…
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Want to buy a Christmas gift for a fan of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic ski resorts???