Where Should I Go? Where Should I Go?

First Trax

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I’ll address the title of today’s story in a bit…AND Cold and SNOW is re-entering the forecast…so be sure to read on…

For now…I am boycotting Mother Nature and Old Man Winter beginning with this morning’s post. From the previous sentence forth I will not be mentioning those two again, until they decide to play nice and provide us with a normal-to-better-than-normal winter. I am calling on all of our Meteorologist buddies and partners to do the same.

These two have gotten more free press on this website and on the air than they warrant due to their lack of effort and provisioning of decent temps and snowfall for our region.

Enough about that…


Media guru, my friend and SkiSoutheast.com columnist, Joe Stevens and I were speaking on Monday about the fact that the words "packed powder" actually appeared on a few conditions reports for a couple of ski areas yesterday.

Since there has been no natural snow since January 3rd or 4th, AND since there has been no snowmaking in the Southeast region since the same dates (January 5th a bit further north), there can be no "packed powder" conditions anywhere.

Thankfully most of our region’s resorts are telling it like it is…and what it is – IS – Groomed, Loose, Wet, Granular, Corn conditions with some thin coverage and bare spots at pretty much every resort in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic.

There is some VERY, VERY NICE coverage at numerous resorts across the region, and there are also some resorts that are having a tougher time of it.

As an example, Ski Beech has dropped "Play Yard" from their open terrain and have some pretty thin coverage and bare areas across the four slopes that they have open. Playing the "devil’s advocate" they DO have plenty of skiable terrain but things are looking pretty bad for the next day or two until they can make some snow.  The higher elevations should be getting some good natural snow this weekend and snowmaking temps will hit Friday night…so conditions for this coming weekend should be pretty nice.  Hawksnest is in pretty much the same shape as well as Massanutten in Virginia.

To put a close on the slope conditions comments this morning, we think that those resorts that are reporting "Loose and Frozen Granular" conditions are accurate…and we REALLY like the report that Laura Parquette from Snowshoe posted this morning. She reports, "loose granular, corn, wet snow, some bare spots may exist". NOW THAT ABOUT COVERS IT and it is about as accurate as you can get…


Never before has that question been asked with the frequency that it has been asked this season. We have always been the "go to" resource for people with a huge array of questions, but in NONE of our previous 11 seasons have we been asked that question as often as we already have seen it in just the first 9 weeks of the season.

For those that like to email me with corrections…with resorts now opening around November 4th and staying open until April 1st and later…we are now seeing a ski season that lasts around 21-22 weeks of the year.  Sugar and Cat opened November 7th this season and remember that Cataloochee opened on November 4th of 2006! (Hence the 9 weeks reference.)

Boy I get off subject sometimes!

The question of the season thus far and one that we were asked in more ways than I care to share over the last two days is, "I was planning to ski at (xyz resort) and with conditions like they are right now, where would you recommend that we go?"

That is a tough one to answer and be wholly fair to the ski areas…because every single ski area team is doing their utmost to provide the best product that they can right now. However, since we are first and foremost here for you the skier and rider…we will keep on "doing our thing".

"Our thing" has been to inform you guys of what’s happening and where within the region.

To best answer ALL of the emails, I pose my answer in this way.

If you already HAVE reservations at a particular resort area, keep them. There is plenty of skiable terrain most everywhere and you will have fun no matter where you go. All of our area’s resorts will provide you a good time. Also cold and snow is in the forecast for the weekend and week ahead so things will only get better…again.

If you are just in the mind to go skiing somewhere and have NOT made reservations yet, then we’ll answer YOUR question this way.

The best conditions by state right now are:

In North Carolina…

Appalachian and Cataloochee look the best. Wolf Ridge and Sugar look pretty good.

In Virginia…

Wintergreen Resort is the best bet and Bryce looks pretty good as well.

In West Virginia and Maryland…

Take your pick. Top choices would be Snowshoe and Wisp as they have the most terrain open with very little in the way of thin coverage or bare spots, etc.

HOPEFULLY…this answers you guys….

If not…here’s another way to look at making your own choice:

In terms of open terrain, here’s what’s out there today:

Appalachian has 8 of 10 slopes open with no thin coverage or bare spots.

Cataloochee has 7 of 14 slopes open with very little in the way of thin coverage or bare spots.

Hawksnest has 7 of 13 slopes open with a good bit of thin coverage and bare spots.

Ski Beech has 4 of 15 slopes open with a lot of thin coverage and bare spots.

Sugar Mountain has 11 of 20 slopes open with just a few thin areas or bare spots.

Bryce Resort has 7 of 8 slopes open and some bare areas.

Massanutten has 6 of 14 slopes open with a lot of thin coverage and bare spots.

Wintergreen Resort has 9 of 25 slopes open with some thin coverage and bare spots.

Canaan Valley has 9 of 37 slopes open with some thin coverage and bare spots.

Snowshoe Mountain has 46 of 60 slopes open with very little in the way of bare spots, and they do have some thin coverage areas as well.

Timberline has 14 of 37 slopes open and some thin coverage and a few bare spots.

Winterplace has 18 of 28 slopes open and some thin coverage and bare spots.

Wisp Resort has 23 of 35 slopes open and a few bare areas and some thin coverage.

Ober Gatlinburg has 5 of 8 slopes open and some substantial thin coverage and bare spots.


After some sporadic drizzle and rain on Thursday…we should see partly cloudy skies and colder temps return Friday night in the North Carolina mountains as the expected low Friday night will be in the mid to upper 20s. Saturday looks great for overnight snowmaking again and then SNOW is in the forecast for Sunday and Monday. Highs in the 20s and 30s are expected Sunday through Tuesday of next week and lows down into the teens.

Winter makes a slightly quicker return further north as lows may get into the 20s tonight into West Virginia and Maryland and that means snowmaking. Thursday and Friday up that way look like a mix of rain and snow…and then Sunday through Tuesday looks COLD and SNOWY!


After a cold and snowy Sunday through Tuesday there is strong model consensus for very cold weather from the middle of next week through the middle of the following week.


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 www.SkiSoutheast.com  

See You On The Slopes!

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Mike D’Elia sent in this nice photo showing conditions at Sugar Mountain on Tuesday – Notice the great snow coverage yet some bare area above – Enlarg
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