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Slopes Still Open as Christmas and ‘Stretch of Record-Breaking Warmth’ Approaches

By Jesse Wood

Enjoy the ski slopes while they are open because the temperature won’t dip below freezing again until Jan. 1, according to the latest 10-day forecast.

Courtesy RaysWeather.com

Normally this time of year, the High Country is used to seeing a “winter storm warning” from the National Weather Service – not a “flash flood watch.” But that’s not the case this year.

RaysWeather.com notes the “4-day stretch of record-breaking warmth” that begins on Christmas Eve.

So far only one inch of natural snow has fallen at the local ski resorts.

“It doesn’t do skiers any good. It doesn’t do us any good. It doesn’t do anybody any good,” said Harris Prevost, vice president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Likewise, Mike Doble, editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, among other websites, penned a column on Tuesday aptly titled, “Man DAMN, This is Getting Tough!” Doble talked about receiving “powder alerts” from Colorado, but unfortunately none from the High Country and surrounding Southeast region:

“This November-December pattern has just been something like ‘beating a guy while he’s down’ in terms of how it has been for ski areas from Wisp Resort in Maryland to Sapphire Valley in southwestern North Carolina.

“There have only been a handful of days or nights where even the “favored” ski areas could make snow and while a few have been able to be open more days than not – it certainly hasn’t been pretty even for them. Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley and Sugar Mountain Resort in Sugar Mountain/Banner Elk have been open more days than any of the resorts in the region and like all of the rest who are open TODAY – they are fighting the fight not JUST to STAY open for the upcoming Christmas weekend and week ahead – but they are fighting to be able to deliver something resembling a fun product for their guests.”

So with that said, here are the current conditions (as of noon on Dec. 23) at the local resorts, according to each of their respective websites.

  • Beech Mountain Resort has five slopes and three lifts open and a base of 6 to 20 inches.
  • Sugar Mountain Resort has five slopes and two lifts open and a base of 5 to 18 inches.
  • Appalachian Ski Mtn. has a six slopes and several lifts open with a base of 16 to 24 inches.
  • Hawksnest Tubing is closed on Wednesday and for the foreseeable future: “We will reopen the tubing lanes as soon as the weather allows.  Snowmaking will resume when temperatures are below freezing.  Zipline tours will be available, weather permitting.  Hope to see you soon,” according to the Hawksnest website.