TROPICAL Weather Hits NC Ski Areas! Cold and Snow on the way though!

First Trax

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THAT question was posed to me first thing this morning by one of our staff who moved to the High Country from Minnesota to go to work for us. I had to chuckle (begrudgingly I might add) because last night around 11:30 or so, lightning and thunder was popping around our "neck of the woods" and now as I write this morning’s post the weather mutated from dark and cloudy with light rain to beautiful and sunny. THAT IS pretty tropical!

Meteorologist Brad Panovich sent us his latest skier’s forecast video for what we should expect for the January 11-17 period leading up to the MLK weekend and it looks great for skiers and snowboarders across the region.

We alluded to that fact in yesterday’s stories and things are holding up. Severe weather and pretty heavy rain fell overnight in some spots and that is a sign that the weather is going from warm to cold. Saturday night is shaping up to be the first of a string of great snowmaking days and nights and there’s even some chances for from 1-4" of snow as well.

Stay tuned for conditions that will go from decent to good to great in a matter of two to three days. More slopes and trails at most all of the resorts will be the offshoot of these great days of snow and snowmaking ahead.

For Friday?

Things should begin to dry up after a half-to-an-inch of rain fell over the last 24 hours. The weekend looks dry with highs in the 40s and lows very near to snowmaking temps tonight and Saturday night. Lows around 28-29° for both nights might crank the snowguns up a little earlier than Brad was suggesting in his forecast.

Snow develops Sunday into Monday and again Monday night into Tuesday and while accummulations are expected to be light (1-4"), the temps are also expected to stay cold with highs near freezing and lows in the teens and 20s throughout the week ahead. The end of next week looks colder than the beginning so things will be looking great no matter where you wish to ski and ride by mid week.


We’re doing something a little different in the face of how different this season has been.  This morning we captured a look at all of the ski areas so that you can get a quick glance.  We are also suggesting that one of our most valuable resources are the live cams and photos of the day.  Looking at the web cams is great for assessing the conditons and unlike a lot of ski websites out there, OUR featured photos at the top of our website ARE NOT promotional shots from seasons past, etc.  The photos of the day on the front page are shots that are sent in by hundreds of visitors and volunteer trail reporters and most featured shots are usually only a day or two old.  So what you’re seeing on the front is the real thing!

<Appalachian this morning 

App looks pretty good and has no real bare areas, etc.  It was cloudy and foggy this morning but that will quickly transition to sunny conditions.  Appalachian has 8 slopes open, terrain park features and ice skating for your enjoyment for what should be a nice weekend of fun at Appachian.  They get our "Best Bet" for the best snow for this weekend.

Expect some "mash potatoes" as the day goes on Friday but vastly improving conditions as the weekend goes forward.

<Cataloochee this morning

As you can see, Cataloochee’s groomers were at it early this morning pushing some snow around.

Cataloochee looks good on the basic ski terrain but the bottom is pretty muddy. (But you don’t ski down there anyway…)

The skies are already clearing early so things should be pretty good there today and Saturday. Cat will make snow as soon as possible.

<Hawksnest this morning

Lenny or Duggan was doing some grooming this morning to make for the best product possible.

Hawksnest looks better than a 13-30" base might sound. They have some significant bare areas and thin coverage, but they do have a strip some ten yards wide at the bottom. We saw very few people skiing The Hawk yesterday…so hit it today and you’ll make a bunch of runs from top to bottom.

Sapphire Valley went from reporting Powder and Packed Powder conditions on Thursday to CLOSED FOR THE NEXT WEEK. I don’t REALLY mean to give them a hard time, but how hard is it to do a two minute web update on their website? They have now announced that due to weather they are closed for skiing and tubing until January 18th. They will be able to blast the slopes beginning probably Monday for those guys and the slopes will look great for MLK weekend.

<Ski Beech this morning

Ski Beech was looking pretty bad on Thursday and only looks a bit worse this morning. Some have written us suggesting that Ski Beech should be closed this morning and I’ll tell you that many even within the admin office there would agree with you. However, they have guests there that want to get on the mountain and Beech is trying to fight the fight and give them SOMETHING to get on. The bottom looks horrible but there IS some skiable terrain above. Not much…but….

They are hanging in there though and we can only say that you guys should maybe ski somewhere else today and look for Ski Beech to make snow as temps nose down tonight or Saturday night. If they can make a little snow tonight things will quickly improve as Beech really stepped up their snowmaking capability game with two straight seasons of new machine purchases and a new snowmaking crew that is staying on the mountain during snowmaking efforts.

If you’d like to ski Beech today, we’d suggest walking up to the slopes before you purchase your ticket. The truth is the ticket window people are probably suggesting the same thing. They will "heal" quickly and be ready for a great MLK weekend. 

<Sugar Mountain this morning

Sugar Mountain still looks darn good this morning. Check out the webcams at  for the full sized shots but frankly they look pretty inviting today.

Expect a few bare spots and some thin coverage here and there. Sugar did reduce their slope offerings by three for today – they now have 8 slopes open and tubing…and ice skating as well.

Expect Gunther and his snowmakers to be the FIRST to crank up their snowmaking equipment as soon as temps allow later this evening (hopefully) or at the latest sometime Saturday.

Sugar should be a good trip this weekend.

<Wolf Ridge this morning

Wolf Ridge is also looking decent this morning. They have good, side to side coverage with some thin coverage and bare spots. They offer three slopes open on each side of their mountain. Ron Holland, a longtime resident, realtor and Wolf Laurel lover wrote us yesterday to provide his take on the fact that Wolf has six slopes open with only three accessible from two separate access points. He wrote, "The writer was right as you can’t ski between the two three slope sections. However the drive is only maybe 5 minutes max from one parking lot to the other. It is a rough year."

For specifics on slope openings at each of the ski areas, be sure to check out the Slope Conditions page and it is also a great idea to check out  for live shots from each of the ski resorts…

In the meantime…


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

For resort news, photos and videos from ALL of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas, visit  

See You On The Slopes!

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