First Trax

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]

So we all made it through the cosmic black hole of the Mayan Calendar version of Fear Factor. Then this morning I go to start posting my snow reporting and BLOG and there's no internet here at my home. Technology is amazing though because I was able to create my OWN hot spot via my phone and away I went.  Thankfully my home internet came back on quickly.

This was up at Beech Mountain on Saturday!

ALSO BACK…are the ski resorts. I was up at Sugar and Beech meant to make it over to Blowing Rock and I can attest to the fact that some SERIOUS snowmaking was happening!

There are now THIRTEEN (counting Liberty's Snowflex Ctr) of our seventeen resorts open today which is the most we've had this season to date.

36 trails open in North Carolina
13 trails open in Virginia (counting Liberty's 8 snowflex)
37 trails open in West Virginia
4 trails open in Maryland
3 trails open in Tennessee


Base depths SKY-ROCKETED in some but not all cases in the last 24 hours. Hopefully those numbers are close to real and not marketing battles to keep up with what XYZ Resort is reporting. I'm afraid there's some of that going on. A few resorts upped their bases more than 20" in the last 24 hours. Either that's some major corrections or they've found a way to make nearly two feet of snow on numerous slopes at once. In the case of the latter, I hope they turn those snow dumps on several additional trails to get closer to fully open rather than on just 3-4 trails.

Wolf Ridge went from ZERO base on this past Wednesday except for some small piles here and there to reporting a base of 20-30" this morning. That's 20-30" in 60 hours on 4 trails – plus snow tubing.

We'll have to see if some of the bases drop as quickly when the days of rain come this week for some areas.

I can tell you personally that Beech was making a veritable CLOUD of snow on Saturday across their mountain. The winds were howling and they were BLASTING that hill and everything around it.


Wisp and Snowshoe are the only ski areas that reported additional snowfall on Saturday with Wisp reporting 3" and Snowshoe with 1" of additional snowfall. That took Wisp to 15" from the storm and Snowshoe the same. Beech Mountain receive the most snowfall of the NC resorts with 6.5" from the two-day storm.


That is the question most asked this morning. I'm going to leave the technical stuff to Herb Stevens and Brad Panovich, however I'm a little concerned with the forecast for the next few days for MOST of the ski region of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. However there's ALSO some great news within the forecast. Let's look at it by region.

They are looking at 8 of the next 10 days with SNOW in the forecast. Nighttime temps are also in the snowmaking range with lows in the mid 20s and highs in the upper 20s to mid 30s through the period. They MAY see some snow Tuesday night and into early Christmas Day and with plenty of natural snow already on the ground, things look very White Christmassy! Snow is in the forecast from December 26-31st EVERY DAY.

Ditto the above forecast with SNOW and a wintry mix in the forecast for 8 of 10 days from now through the end of the year. Highs in the 20s and low 30s – and lows in the mid teens to 20° will make for a great ski Holiday week ahead! With plenty of snow on the ground it will be a WHITE CHRISTMAS but it is likely to just be cloudy on Christmas Day. If you are travelling on Wednesday look for SNOW, SNOW and more snow.


As we drop down into Virginia things look a little milder. Some showers will probably hit on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day will be sunny with highs around 46° and overnight lows just above snowmaking temps until Thursday, December 27th when SNOW is in the forecast! From then til the end of the year look for some patchy snow and lows overnight that should allow for snowmaking.


As we look over towards Maggie Valley and Cataloochee things look like lows won't allow for snow or snowmaking until December 26th now as the colder air exits out. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day look a little wet as well with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid 30s. Temps turn cold again at NIGHT on the 26th and then we're looking at snowmaking cold temps each night. No natural snow is in the forecast until perhaps December 29th when temps are forecasted to nosedive into the teens with some snow and wintry mix.

OBER GATLINBURG actually may see some showers on Christmas Day and then snow or mix on Wednesday and Thursday after Christmas. Lows in the mid 20s from Wednesday to Thursday should allow for additional snowmaking. Snow is in the offing around December 30th.

BEECH MOUNTAIN looks surprisingly not as cold as we'd have thought. After the snowguns shut down later today (they are still running as of this writing at 10am Sunday) they will remain off until perhaps Wednesday night. Showers are liking Christmas Eve. Christmas Day looks cloudy but little chance of any precip. Wednesday looks rainy again 🙁 However Thursday and Friday look snowy with lows in the mid 20s! Ditto the snow next weekend with perhaps a mix in that system.

So as you can see, we'll need to keep an eye on the horizon and watch for Brad's and Herb's forecasts.

HERE ARE THE NOTABLES FOR TODAY! (We're skipping all around.)

We'll start with VIRGINIA…

YES – Virginia – THERE IS skiing and snowboarding – IN VIRGINIA!

It is so good to see the VA resort able to make enough snow to get open. The temperatures have simply been less than accommodating across the "Lovers" state. Temps north and south of Virginia have just been colder but they HAVE made snow and here's what's happening today.

BRYCE RESORT – 20° – I LOVE the fact that they are reporting a SINGLE DIGIT base depth. (I think all resorts should. Snowshoe used to!) Anyway Ryan and their crew are reporting a base of 20" on 3 of 8 trails that will open at 11am. Call ahead about night sessions. They are still BLASTING the trails this AM.

This great shot was sent by Marketing & Lynn Swann! Click HERE to see larger image!

THE HOMESTEAD – 22.3° – They OPENED ON SATURDAY! We didn't get the update til late, but they are now open with 2 of 10 trails for day sessions until 4:30pm. They are reporting a 12-26" base. A lot of you have asked us about the HOMESTEAD CAM that we promised LAST SEASON. They've had it for a year and hopefully we can get that running and get a more interactive participation from this popular four-season-resort. If you guys have not seen or visited THE HOMESTEAD you should do so soon. This place is impressive.

After some prodding from us, we are excited to see a SNOW REPORT on their front page now! They were doing $12.22 lift passes on Saturday. Get it? Dec 22nd.

THE HOMESTEAD'S popularity can be easily shown through their 17000+ facebook followers.

CLICK HERE to see another great photo from THE HOMESTEAD on Saturday!


OBER GATLINBURG is now OPEN albeit with 3 of 9 trails and snow tubing. When you look at what they've had to work with – which would arguably be the least amount of cold and snow – they have done the most with the least. Ice skating is also open today.


This awesome shot was captured right from the LIVE CAM!

Click here to see LIVE IMAGE!

Click HERE to see snow groomer doing his thing!

WINTERPLACE – 23° – These guys went from zero to HERO in one day as they waited patiently, made snow whenever possible and opened with 12 of 27 trails today. They are playing on a base of 14-34" and still making tons of snow.  Missy Cline posted, "Our aniticipated plan is the open chairlift 3 and the trails Look At Me, Drop Off and Compromise later this afternoon.  We are working on the Snowtubing Park and hope to open that as soon as possible."

We watched the groomer's doing their thing this morning via: http://www.resortcams.com/webcameras-winterplace.php

WISP RESORT – These guys are officially under new ownership and they are getting the best of weather in the region so far with a region-leading 55" on the season. Weatherstreet is reporting a natural base of 12" still on the ground and they saw another 3" of snow on Saturday. They are ONLY open, however with 4 of 32 trails so they are taking things kind of slow when you consider they have perhaps THE BEST, most sophisticated snowmaking plant on the planet – or at least in the region.  Regardless WISP looks sweet on what they have open and they also offer snow tubing, ice skating and their sweet mountain coaster.

APPALACHIAN – 23° – They are "blizzarding" their mountain as they added another open trail in the last 24 hours. It seems that Brad MIGHT be seeing how quickly they can go from NO SNOW to 100% open. In just the last 72 hours and change they have gone from a ZERO INCH base to 20-44" on six open trails.

Beech via the LIVE CAM this Morning!

BEECH MOUNTAIN – 28° – They've upped their base 2-4" and their trail count by TWO as well now that they are reporting 7 of 15 trails open for day and night sessions. Ice skating is open as well. I find it amazing that Beech already has UPPER and LOWER Robbin's Run OPEN today. UPPER and LOWER Shawneehaw are their staple runs but to see Robbin's open this quickly after just three days of snowmaking is impressive. Those new snowguns and Polecats are working sweet!

Talia Freeman writes, "Santa will be visiting today.  From 3pm to 530pm,Santa will be in the View Haus Cafeteria making sure to hear everyone's holiday wishes! On December 24, at 430pm a Christmas Eve Service will be held at the ice rink.  Participants can enjoy a free hot chocolate to celebrate the holiday."

CATALOOCHEE – 19.2° three straight mornings – They added 10-20" of base in the LAST 24 HOURS! They are now reporting 14-40" of base. Tammy Brown writes, "Colder temperatures have remained with us throughout the day on Saturday and we have continue snowmaking all over the mountain including Upper Omigosh. On Sunday, we will be skiing on 10 out of 16 slopes, from the top of the quad down, including the Lower Snowbird Trail and Alley Cat with three aerial lifts and two conveyor lifts operating, on a base of 14-40 inches and a machine worked surface from 8:30am-10pm. Please note that several of our terrain features will be available for you to ride on Upper Over Easy, right down from the Snack Shack, accessed by the Easy Way Triple Chairlift. Tubing is OPEN as well!"

SAPPHIRE VALLEY – They have opened their Frozen Falls Tubing facility now and hope to get Skiing open Monday.

SUGAR MOUNTAIN – They added 14" to their base depth from Saturday morning and added ONE MORE open trail as well. They are now playing on 9 of 20 slopes, tubing and ice skating are open as well. Sugar is creating a blizzard on their hill this morning as well.

WOLF RIDGE – They posted, "We will be open from 9am-10pm for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Conditions are excellent and we anticipate opening our terrain park later this afternoon. Holiday/Weekend pricing is in effect. See you on the Slopes!"


SNOWSHOE is up from 21 to 23 trails open today. That's 84 acres of available skiing and snowboarding. It's also 8° there this AM. The Shoe has had 18" of snow this past week with MORE on the way.

TIMBERLINE – They are reporting on ONE of 40 trails as open. I called and was told that they have Crossroads and Woods Hole both open today. The NWS is reporting 8" of natural snow depth still on the ground after a 10" snowfall the day or so before. Timberline is making snow like crazy.

MASSANUTTEN – Massanutten's snow makers have been hard at work trying to get as much snow on the ground as possible in windy conditions. We plan to open as soon as possible. Several lower Ski Slopes could open as early as Monday, December 24th. We will make an announcement tomorrow regarding a Monday opening. Please check this page for updates. Thank you for your patience.

Wintergreen this AM after some natural snow fell and snowmaking ops!

WINTERGREEN RESORT – Temperatures are going to creep back up tomorrow into Monday before stormy weather moves into our area for the first part of the week.  Weather forecasters are talking about the possibility of some natural snow before temperatures fall off dramatically 12/26.  Christmas week is forecasted to be nice and cold allowing for round the clock snowmaking.  All of this cold air will allow us to provide great surface conditions and open terrain quickly.

We are doing everything we can to open before 12/26.  Check this message for the most up to date information.

CANAAN VALLEY – Opens December 26th and is making truckloads of new snow!


That's it for today folks. Merry Christmas EVE, EVE. See you on the slopes!


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