Wild and Woolly Weather Hits the Region! Snow and Cold Returns Soon!

First Trax

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It has been a few days since we provided an in-depth tour of conditions and summaries for all of the ski areas. We’re doing that today. Thanks to Sam Covington of Richmond, Virginia who wrote yesterday, "Guys and gals of SkiSoutheast.com I want to congratulate your team on what is the best ski website I’ve ever seen. I am from Park City, Utah and moved here to Richmond because of work and I came across your website last season. During my travels I have come across lots of websites that play around with area reporting, but nothing has come close to telling it like it is the way you guys do. You should be proud and the resorts of this part of the country should be all over you guys! I particularly enjoy the daily tours that you guys do. You can really tell where to go ski, simply from your reports. I have skied now at Snowshoe and Wintergreen based solely on your reporting and can attest to knowing what to expect before I ever got to the slopes. Great job. If I can ever contribute let me know."

Well! Those kind of emails make our day! Thanks Sam. We’re not sure what you meant by "the resorts should be all over us" but we’ll take that as a strong referral! (Hopefully.) Actually we ARE proud of the site and we do get a lot of strong participation from the resorts and we are working to take that up a peg in seasons to come. We always enjoy emails from you guys…but this one makes the day! Thanks again. As far as contributing Sam…you just did.

Since Sam brought up the tours…and since it has been a few days…AND since the weather IS affecting the conditions, let’s do an in-depth one today. We’ll take you state/area by area.

West Virginia and Maryland Ski Area Summary: 

Wisp Resort – 45° – Rain today – Nice Conditions and 31 trails open.

Wisp Resort in Maryland really REALLY looks quite nice today although they have a 70% chance of some nasty storms today and tonight. Once those clear through SNOW is in the forecast from Thursday though Friday. They should see a couple of inches of snow. There’s another little shot of snow in the forecast for Saturday and Wisp will see some snowmaking temps as early as Thursday night. The shot here of "Little Dipper" looks sweet. They have a trail or two where there are some thinning areas, but all in all great shape.

Canaan Valley – 44° – Rain today – Very nice conditions and 32 trails open.

Davis, WV is looking at some strong storms today and tonight but SNOW for Thursday and Friday. They may see an inch or more of natural snow. Snowmaking temps return Thursday evening. Canaan looks really nice right now with only a couple of thinning areas popping up.

Snowshoe Mountain – 40° – Very nice conditions with the most open terrain in the region at 60 trails (100%). They are in great shape but they do have a thin area here and there. Overnight grooming makes that non existent early. They have only a slight chance of light rain today, more tonight and then snow is in the forecast from Thursday through the weekend! They could make snow tonight but definately Thursday evening.

Timberline Resort – 44° – 32 trails open and in very nice condition. Ditto Canaan Valley’s forecast.

Winterplace Resort – 46° – 28 trails open and in very nice condition. They do have a few trails where some thinning areas show here and there, but early grooming takes care of that. They look very nice going into the weekend.

OVER THE LAST FOUR DAYS – Base Reports and Grades:

Wisp Resort – Current base: 20"-60" – Lost 8" of base – Rated a 9

Canaan Valley – Current base: 20"-40" – NO Reported Loss (I’m clearing my throat now…) – Rated a 9

Snowshoe Mountain – Current base: 54" Average – Lost 2" of base – Rated a 9

Timberline Resort – Current base: 30"-60" – Lost 14" of base

Winterplace Resort – Current base: 40"-80" – NO Reported Loss (I’m clearing my throat now…) – Rated a 9

Virginia Ski Area Summary:

Wintergreen Resort – 49° – Breezy today but no rain early. 60% chance of rain today. Snowmaking temps return Friday night and some snow chances are in the mix for Friday through Sunday! Wintergreen looks nice with all 26 trails open but they do have some thinning areas.

Anne Marie Jones writes, "We have a huge Presidents Weekend on the way with colder temperatures, overnight snowmaking, natural snow forecasted and more! Presidents weekend is packed full of activities for the whole family. Fun activities include: Saturday – ski and ride equipment demo, Sunday – Freestyle Double Cross Race, an evening Rail Jam, LATE NIGHT THRILLS (ski and ride until midnight), teen dance party in The Dome and finally Monday – USSA Slalom race. A full schedule of events will be available through the This Week at Wintergreen link below. Remember, if you want a little taste of spring skiing before winter returns on Friday, you better get up here soon. Old Man Winter returns at the start of the weekend and forecasters are already hinting at a NATURAL SNOW event Saturday to celebrate the return of normal winter temperatures. Bring it on!" 

<You can always tell how nice the rest of a resort must be by looking at the condition of the tubing park. This is Mass’s.  It’s Great! Huh!?!?

Massanutten Resort – 48° – They are in fine shape with all 14 trails open and the tubing park looks great! Snowmaking temps are forecasted for Friday night and some snow is in the mix for Saturday. Massanutten is looking at some mid 60° temps for today!

Bryce Resort – 53° – They are mostly cloudy today and mild. They may see a 70° reading today! It may be Sunday before they see snowmaking temps when the temperatures are forecasted to drop to 28° then. Bryce has all 8 trails open.

OVER THE LAST FOUR DAYS – Base Depth Reports and Grades

Wintergreen Resort – Current base: 40"-60" – Lost 10" of base – Rated an 8

Bryce Resort – Current base: 41"-67"" – Lost 5" of base

Massanutten Resort – Current base: 50" Average – NO Reported Loss (I’m clearing my throat now…) – Rated a 8

Ober Gatlinburg – 55° – They are looking the potential for some severe thunderstorms today with an 80% chance of rain and gusty winds. Unfortunately for Ober, we are not seeing snowmaking temps in the long range forecast which is a bummer as they are showing some thin coverage and a few bare areas beginning to pop up. They have 6 trails open with some thin areas and a reported bare area here and there.

Ober – Current base: 50"-78"" – Lost 10" of base – Rated a 7 to 8

North Carolina Tour and Summary:

A good friend of mine, Len Bauer is Sugar Mountain’s Director of Skiing and Snowboarding. That’s a cool title isn’t it? He’s in his 17th year at the helm of Sugar’s Ski and Snowboard School and he’s been teaching at Sugar for 23 years at Sugar. He dropped by the house on Tuesday afternoon and I was showing him the video we shot from up at Ski Beech this past Saturday – showcasing some of the area’s ski and snowboard racing talent. His daughter, Dakota Bauer had the fastest time for the ladies on Saturday and another Dakota (Dakota Thompson) was the fastest men’s time! Both Dakotas ski for Sugar Mountain’s Race Team. Congrats to both Dakotas!

Len and I also talked about how great Sugar looks right now – right in the midst of this strong, mild spell and he told me that back during the last cold outbreak that Gunther had made a ton of snow and had a few stockpiles of snow in areas that was close to twenty feet! That is crazy! He also said that Gunther, Joe White and Sugar’s snow groomers had taken to grooming after 10pm lately so that once they finished up, it would give the snow a chance to setup overnight – making for a firmer start to the day. Very cool Sugar. Very cool.

Sugar looks REALLY, REALLY quite nice this morning – glancing at the live cam. We zoomed in from across the street and conditions looks awefully inviting this morning and that is a credit to some strong snowmaking during the previous few weeks, to Sugar’s very good snowmaking plant, and to some good maintenance crews.

Ditto Appalachian Ski Mountain and Cataloochee’s management and system. Wolf Ridge looks pretty decent although they are showing a bit more wear and tear than those mentioned. The sides of the mountain are "creeping in" pretty good and they have a few thin coverage areas here and there. All in all good shape and they will weather this mild stretch in pretty good shape.

<Beech is hurting a bit.  This AM shot of where Upper and Lower Shawneehaw merge looks pretty worn and in need of some snow making temps

Unfortunately Ski Beech is looking the worst of the bunch right now. While Appalachian, Cataloochee, Sugar and Wolf Ridge all get "8’s to 10’s" on our Base Scale right now, we’re grading Beech’s out to a "7". You can check the SLOPE REPORT page for how we grade all surfaces, but a "7" is good terrain, good coverage, but definately some thin coverage areas and more than a few bare spots. We watched live as Beech was grooming Upper Shawneehaw this morning and they will no doubt make things better for the first half day or so. Beech still looks pretty good, but they need the snowmaking temps to return a bit moreso than the others.

I was up with Fred Barth of Beech Alpen Inn on Beech Mountain on Tuesday and he was passing on the talk that everyone was thinking that Beech might get some chances to make snow tonight or early on Thursday morning. As we reported yesterday, that is pretty sketchy right now and we’re thinking that they are just going to miss that short "window of opportunity". It now appears that maybe Saturday night will be the first opportunity for Beech and Sugar to make snow. There’s an outside shot at it Thursday night, but it looks doubtful.

According to Meteorologist Matthew East, ALL of the ski areas should get back to the business of snowmaking on Sunday evening as temperatures are forecasted to get back to more winter-like numbers. Lows Sunday night should be in the mid 20s to 27°. After a mild week this week – winter is forecasted to return next week and we’re seeing highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s Monday and Tuesday. All of the talk right now is about the next SNOW SYSTEM that looks to be taking shape bringing some very good chances of snow to the North Carolina Mountains by mid week next week.

So what we have right now in the way of base and slope conditions, is what all of the ski areas are going to have to be able to provide a good product for the combined Valentine’s Day / President’s Weekend coming up this weekend. We’ve had some GREAT Holiday conditions thus far this season and this one looks pretty decent. We have some crazy weather today with some rain this evening (maybe even a thunderstorm or two) and some winds that may pop in the 60+ mph range!

Thursday and Friday looks nice, but there’s a little chance of some rain on Saturday morning. That should be shortlived and then from mid-day Saturday through Sunday looks nice. It won’t be a pristine weekend of conditions, but things will actually be pretty doggone nice at Appalachian, Cataloochee and Sugar Mountain. If you’re headed to Wolf Ridge, things are going to be okay, with plenty of snow and lots of skiable terrain with a thin and bare area here and there. If you’re headed to Ski Beech, keep your plans in tact. There’s plenty of skiable terrain. Most of Upper and Lower Shawneehaw looks fine; the base of the mountain is in good shape; Robbins Run and White Lightning look pretty good, and while there are some widespread bare areas and thinning coverage…you don’t ski those anyway. Go have fun.

Hawksnest and Sapphire Valley are closed til Friday.

OVER THE LAST FOUR DAYS – Base Reports and Grades:

Appalachian – Current base: 84"- 109" – Lost 11" of base – Rated a 10

Cataloochee – Current base: 37" – 91" – Lost 11" of base – Rated a 9

Ski Beech – Current base: 40" – 70" – Lost 5" of base – Rated a 7

Ski Beech isn’t reporting thin coverage or bare areas on their report, but they are there today and they have closed one trail that was open on Tuesday. We can’t tell what that is from their trail map which one that was. We’re speculating "Southern Star" because it was looking pretty thin.

Sugar Mountain – Current base: 44"-80" – Lost 17" of base – Rated an 8 to 9

Late in the day you’ll find some thin areas at trail merges and high traffic areas, but Sugar still looks really quite nice.

Wolf Ridge Resort – Current base: 52 – 72" – Lost 6" of base – Rated an 8

You guys can take what you want from this four day base report, but we’re giving the highest reporting grade to Sugar Mountain as they have done a great job of self reporting over the last couple of years.

Go enjoy your day on the slopes today, as things will begin getting windy and wet as this frontal boundary of weather makes it into the area.

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]

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