By Paul T. Choate
Dec. 11, 2012. It’s finally looking like some seasonal temperatures will settle into the High Country for an extended period over the next several days, which is fantastic news for our three local ski resorts that have all been sort of off-and-on due to unusually warm weather lately.
Sugar Mountain Resort, the earliest of all the resorts to open this season back on Oct. 31, was forced to close the slopes yesterday due to warm weather and melting snow. Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort are also closed currently after both opening up back on Nov. 30. Appalachian Ski Mountain had to close on Dec. 3, with Beech Mountain following suit soon after on Dec. 5.
Ice-skating is currently open at both Sugar Mountain and Appalachian Ski Mountain, and will open on Friday, Dec. 14, at Beech Mountain.
“At this point we’re kind of making the most of the weather,” said Drew Stanley, marketing director at Appalachian Ski Mountain. “We’re hoping here over the next few days we’ll get the guns running.”
Stanley said the unusually warm December weather has been a bit of a hindrance, but said the upcoming cold temperatures were very exciting and that even one night of cold weather with low humidity could be huge in terms of snowmaking. He said they anticipate they will know more about a potential reopening date by Thursday morning, but that no tentative date has been set yet.
“We’re watching the weather like a hawk and as soon as it dips down until it rises above we’ll be on it,” Stanley said.
Beech Mountain anticipates a reopening of the slopes on Friday, Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. Snowmaking is currently in process and the temperature on the mountain is 26 degrees.
“Things are going good here,” said Talia Freeman, marketing director at Beech Mountain. “We’ve been closed temporarily, but I like to stress that we like to provide consistent quality for our customers.”
Freeman said the upcoming forecast looks promising for the resort and said the repositioning of the snow guns during the off-season has been “night and day” in terms of helping with the snowmaking process.
Following their historically early open in October, Sugar Mountain has tried to remain steadfast about being open but with too much warm weather they too are feeling the effects. Kim Jochl, marketing director with Sugar Mountain, said they are currently making snow as of this afternoon and plan to reopen the slopes tomorrow.
“We are definitely excited about the weather forecast,” Jochl said. “We are making snow right now. We probably started about 5 a.m. and we will continue as long as temperatures will allow.”
Jochl said it had been snowing this morning at Sugar Mountain and as of lunchtime was still flurrying.
Although Sugar Mountain was open this past weekend, the annual SugarFest that was planned for the weekend was postponed until Dec. 14 to 16.
“We just saw some colder weather coming in so we decided the consumers would probably have a better experience if we decided to postpone SugarFest a week,” Jochl said.
According to Jochl, the schedule for SugarFest this weekend will stay the same as was planned for last weekend with only one possible scheduling conflict. Olympic gold medalist Diann Roffe may not be able to attend the event, but all other events are on track to take place.
“We’re fortunate everything was able to be rescheduled,” Jochl said.
According to The Weather Channel, daytime highs around the High Country are expected to hover around the high 40s to mid 50s throughout the next 10 days. Nighttime lows are the good news for the ski areas. Lows overnight are projected to dip into the mid 20s to low 30s every night for the next 10 days, with the exception of Saturday night when temperatures may stay around 40.