It is Sunday, January 14, 2024. We are in the middle of MLK Weekend. Sundays are my day to ramble. Today’s FirsTrax post will be an unusually long or pointed ramble. Most of you have shared that longer is better 😉
I hope this post is entertaining enough to keep your attention as most any avid reader/viewer of SkiSoutheast.com would not DARE be out skiing or snowboarding in the mass of humanity that can be found at most of the resorts on an MLK weekend.
Let’s get to it. Hopefully you will stick around for the “juicy part” as we had a bit of a social media implosion/explosion on Saturday.
First, check out just how different the weather is this morning when looking from Wisp Resort, and Canaan Valley Resort in Maryland and West Virginia and THEN looking at Beech Mountain Resort and Cataloochee Ski Area in North Carolina. Crazy huh?!?!
Wisp, Canaan, Timberline and Snowshoe Mountain ALL picked up from 2″-4″ of new, natural snow but the snow line pretty much stopped there as only flurries fell across the rest of the region. (We had flurries most all day Saturday here at my home.)
The AWESOME news is that the temperatures have dropped as Meteorologist, Brad Panovich and most every weather guru in the region CORRECTLY forecasted would happen. More about that in a bit.
A SUNDAY WALK THROUGH THE SNOW REPORT
Back in the day, prior to the interwebs as we now know it, all snow reporting used to be shared by the Southeastern Ski Areas Association via radio stations. Each station that wanted the intel would play a recorded session updated each day. I’m old schooling it today, so check this out: Click to play.
Here’s the written version for all of you really-old-schoolers!
Appalachian Ski Mountain – 28° – Made Snow – 68″-94″ base – 100% OPEN – all 13 slopes, terrain park, ice skating – 3.5″ of Snow on Season
Beech Mountain Resort – 20° – Made Snow – 46″-58″ base – 15 of 17 trails open, terrain park, tubing open – 11.5″ of Snow on Season
Bryce Resort – no report for 4 days. 7 of 8 trails open. No clue about base, etc.
Canaan Valley Resort – 24° – Made Snow – 36″-60″ base – 13 of 47 trails and snow tubing open. Ice Skating Open – 67″ of Snow on the season.
Cataloochee Ski Area – 25° – Making Snow – 42″-60″ base – 16 of 18 trails open and tubing! 4″ of snow on season.
Hatley Pointe – 23° – NO SNOWMAKING yet. The word is they are having pumphouse or pump issues and have not made snow yet. They did provide an update the other day saying that were hoping to do a soft opening. At this point it would seem if they do that it will just be for a temporary opening to blast some snow, run their groomers and allow some guests on the mountain…and then they will probably focus on mountain bike season and look to the 2024-2025 season to open. This is from sources close to the Hatley’s that asked to remain anonamous. The latest from Deb Hatley herself has been more “keeping her cards hidden just yet”. They have done a ton on that mountain and it is our guess that they just want to share some excitement with their fans and pass holders. – STAY TUNED.
Massanutten Resort – 29° – Making Snow – 24″ base – 14 of 23 trails open and 12 lanes of tubing. Terrain Park features. +/- 3″ of snow on the season.
Ober Mountain – 29° – Making Snow as Temps allow – 15″-30″ base – 5 of 10 slopes open plus tubing and the best ice skating rink in the region. +/- 1-2″ of snow on the season.
Sapphire Valley Resort – 29° – Making Snow as Temps allow – 23″-59″ base – 2 slopes open plus tubing. 2″ of natural snow on the season.
Snowshoe Mountain – 22° – Made Snow – 40″ base – 40 of 61 trails open – several terrain parks – tubing open. 38″ of snow on the season.
Sugar Mountain Resort – 23° – Making Snow – 44″-90″ base – 17 of 21 trails open, tubing and ice skating – 10″ +/- of snow this season. (They are reporting 17.2″. Good grief!)
The Omni Homestead Resort – 30° – Made snow all night! – 14″ base – 4 of 9 slopes open and tubing. 1-2″ of snow on the season. Lynn shared, “We made snow all night and now have a base of 14” on 4 trails (2 beginner, 2 intermediate). We’re open to the top for skiing and snowboarding. Snowmaking will resume after the slopes close for the day.”
Timberline Mountain – 21° – Made snow – 24″-65″ base – 19 of 20 trails open – 69.1″ of snow on the season! They have seen 13-15″ of snow in the last 7 days.
Timberline posted, “There has been continuous snowfall on the mountain since Saturday morning, but winds have not allowed for a accumulation beyond 1 to 2 inches. You’ll find a machine groomed surface on our open terrain today, and some areas of the mountain will have a fresh layer of natural snow overtop this groomed surface. All terrain is currently open except for The Drop, which remains closed until our next round of snowmaking.”
Wintergreen Resort – 26° – Making Snow – 12″-24″ base – 12 of 26 slopes open – tubing open – 4″ of snow on the season.
Winterplace Resort – 26° – Made Snow – 30″-40″ base – 19 of 29 slopes open -tubing open – 8.7″ of snow on the season.
Wisp Resort – 21° – Made Snow and picked up 2.5″ natural over the last 24 hours. 22 of 33 trails open – ice skating and tubing open. 39.5″ of snow on the season.
YOU GUYS REALLY LIKE VIDEOS!
Most of our written FirsTrax posts and even those shared on Social Media get a lot of play. However, when we compile those reports onto video, we get something like three-to-four times the views/listens. Here is one I shared late on Saturday.
WEATHER. LIES ABOUT THE WEATHER. FRUSTRATIONS ABOUT THE WEATHER AND TAKING IT OUT ON THE WEATHER PROS WE LOVE.
The 2023-2024 ski & snowboarding season has been a crazy, volatile one thus far. We NOW seem to be entering a new, more stable, colder and potentially snowier pattern according to studio-quality Skier’s Forecast videos that Meteorologist Brad Panovich shares with us a couple of times a week. He warned us ALL back in November that the early part of the season would be a wild and potentially wet one. I’d say he mostly nailed that.
Most of the region has seen WAY more under-developed snow (rain) so far, although we’ve also had enough windows of snowmaking opportunities to have all of the slopes open that I shared above. So far so good.
I am a stickler about natural snowfall and reporting base depths. Most longtime readers will attest to the fact that I beat that dead horse about base depths for way too long. I’ve backed off of base depths rants because no matter what is being reported, there is plenty of manmade, packed and groomed snow on the slopes to ski or ride on without messing up your skis or snowboard. However, when it comes to reporting NATURAL SNOWFALL, I feel that there has always been one or two ski areas that just post what they want. It’s like, “Who are you guys going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
When I turned the snow reports over to Josh Sullivan this season, I warned him about a couple of suspect players who will, from time to time over-report snowfall. Is it because, like me, I just get so excited when snow falls that I innocently blurt out to family and friends that we’ve had 5″ of snow when there is clearly 2″? Naw.
I think it’s more to do with reporting a bigger number to entice people to head to your ski area, where the natural snowfall numbers are reporting more snow, rather than another ski area. This usually has no real bearing on things unless two ski areas are a mile or two or three apart.
Again, I am a stickler for “NO BULLSHIT SNOW REPORTING”. Back in the mid-to-late 90s there was a guy who coined that phrase for reporting up around Vermont. I borrowed it (I asked permission) and created a graphic. I then proceded to call out bad actors who over-reported. On rare occasions, I would even resort to driving over on the morning of a nice snowfall and measure the deepest snow I could find to SHOW that the over-reporting being done was just that, BS.
Of our 16 ski areas in the region, truthfully only 4 would occasionally over report. Sometimes you could tell they added the snowfall one afternoon and then again in the morning after. I would email or call them and they would correct it.
In the case of Snowshoe Mountain, they are just so confident in their product, they don’t CARE about natural snow reporting for the season. Many years ago they adopted the practice of not counting natural snow until they opened for the season. We’ve always felt the need to count it from the start of meteorological winter. In that case, each and every year, Snowshoe under-reports natural snowfall. Case in point:
Snowshoe is currently reporting 38″ of snowfall on the season when we think they should be reporting 56.5″ of snow that they’ve actually had. Canaan Valley Resort didn’t open until much later than Snowshoe and by the time they did open already showed two feet of snow.
If you go HERE: https://www.weather.gov/wrh/Climate?wfo=rlx and search SNOWSHOE each month and do the math, you will see that Snowshoe’s AVERAGE snowfall to this date should be 53.5″ so they are 3″ ahead with snow coming most of this week.
As I checked the natural snow totals being reported around the region this morning, this jumped out to me:
Sugar is reporting: 17.2″
…and no other ski area in the entire state of NC, VA, TN and some of WV are reporting more than 11″ which is what we are seeing for Beech Mountain.
If you guys want to use the link below or go and check all if the reporting stations and CoCoRahs reporters, you’ll find that Sugar’s natural snowfall totals for the season should be +/- 10″.
You’d have to look day-by-day from November 1st through today, but there’s only 10″ of snow in there since December 1st. If you want to fluff it up a bit, we could see a foot on the season…maybe. Trust me, it has snowed A LOT of days since December 1st here in the High Country. Nineteen days in fact. According to some very unofficial snow spotters, you could argue 15 to 17″ of snowfall to date. However, officially, not so much.
…and FINALLY, METEOROLOGISTS ARE PEOPLE TOO.
Man, we live in a world that seems to getting meaner by the moment. I won’t even hint at anything political except to say that all you have to do to get ran over on social media is to post anything adjacent to the environment, oil, Christianity, conservatism, and God knows don’t utter the name “trump” even if you mean it as a verb!
People are just ready to protest and spew hatred and venom at a moment’s notice…with no basis. Most often, all most want to do is yell, scream and interupt whatever YOU want to say, no matter if you have a valid point or not. The mantra these days seems to be to just bring any hatred you can into any conversation.
There are simply way too many trolls, haters and know-it-alls sitting ready to pounce, just to do so, period.
On Saturday, a good friend of mine and all “Ski-Southeasters” had enough and just had to clear his mind. On Facebook, on Saturday, our great friend, Meteorologist Brad Panovich posted this:
Panovich quickly received more than 1200 comments – all coming to his defense and to share comfort. I texted a couple of times with him. It was obvious that he was more than a little frustrated, pissed (understandably) and needed to get some things off his chest.
I particularly loved this part, “The comment section becomes a cesspool, which is unfortunate since some very good information, photos, etc, is often shared there. The negativity about hype, being wrong etc helps no one.
So, if you are a troll, hater, or know-it-all, yes, I hear you…
*I get it wrong 99 percent of the time and am still paid
*Every time I forecast snow, you get a cold rain
*Your favorite TikTok or YouTube entertainer or dancer knows 100 percent more than I do about the weather.
*My app says this
*Someone else says this
Sure, I get it wrong sometimes. Predicting the future is hard; fill out a March Madness bracket, and you will find out yourself. But, I do my best to provide useful information here based on sound science while communicating uncertainty. The goal is to make you Weather Aware. The Aware part is what many of you are missing. I consult with a lot of Emergency Managers, School officials, Fire departments, and just regular Moms and Dads trying to plan something with their families. They get there is uncertainty and things change, but they still want to know the possibilities so they aren’t caught off guard and prepared for what the weather might bring.”
I remember back in the day, old Joe Pinner of WIS TV, who was more of an announcer, anchor and celebrity than a weather guy (in fact, he wasn’t a meteorologist, he just played one on TV). He once shared with me that he couldn’t help but be affected when someone would call in the station or email complaints like Brad shared above.
Meteorology is a tough enough business if you operate behind the scenes and simply report or share weather data. Get in front of a camera and share climate and weather information to the masses and it becomes an altogether different beast. In just the last year or so, as our citizenry just seems to get meaner, there have been many reports about television meteorologist who have resigned or quit after being threatened. One was recently was called a “liberal conspiracy theorist” and posts on social media turned ugly when the person threatening him advised the meteorologist to go drown himself in the ice caps that were melting.
Brad Panovich IS a talented, experienced meteorologist. He is also a “man about Charlotte” known immediately every where he shows up. He is also wise enough and well-read enough to know all of the snarky comments that can be made about him or his forecasts the day after a 5-6″ snow forecast turns to ice or rain. Like every other profession in the world, Meteorology has become more difficult as everyone has internet access to some downloadable apps or tools and then thinks of his or herself as a weather-guru capable of doing it better than a pro, a scientist, who has devoted his entire adult life and career to the profession. I also know Brad to be tireless. I don’t know when the man sleeps. I’m serious.
Saying that, Brad Panovich and all meteorologists are also people. They have wives, husbands, children and their skin is no thicker than yours or mine.
Moments after I read Brad’s post I noticed that a number of Meteorologist came to his defense advising him to simply BLOCK “bad actors” from being able to comment. I thought to myself, “Good for you, Brad. Get it out.”
The job IS naturally stressful. Imagine reporting on an approaching, massive storm, filled with potential tornados. Imagine that you can’t get the forecast 100% accurate. It is impossible to expect that. Imagine reading the news the following morning about homes and families destroyed. Imagine looking back over your charts and data and questioning whether or not you could have warned residents quicker. It’s stressful.
Due to social media and the immediate and available access to meteorologists, SOME have quit the profession citing mental stress and stress on their families. Some have reported numerous stress-related disorders. There are HUNDREDS of references to this on the net.
I hope that Brad and other meteorologists will consider posting to any and all media outlets, but limit comments/access. Yes, there are often beautiful photos and comments shared, but increasingly too often these days, the comments cross lines.
In closing – THANK YOU Brad for being our (SkiSoutheast.com) meteorologist. Thank you for giving of yourself to fellow ski and snow loving fans.
In closing, Brad will be hanging with us at the upcoming SkiSoutheast “Summit @ The ‘Nutt”. We are up to around 120 people attending so far and we hope you will join us.
Don’t forget: Clear your calendar from February 9-11. That’s when Massanutten and SkiSoutheast will host team up to host our summit. It’s a great way to meet like-minded, snow-loving people, and possibly make some lifelong friends in the process.
Thanks to everyone that has already joined us on Discord.
Also click here to Join Us on our New, SkiSoutheast Discord Channel. It is a GREAT way to meet new snow loving friends and shares experiences, ask questions and more!
Until Then, THINK COLD. THINK SNOW!
Email me at [email protected]