Despite this flurry of snowmaking activity, however, Snowshoe has once again moved its opening date forward - this time from Friday, December 14 to Monday, December 17 - conditions permitting.
“We’re tired of putting down dates,” claims Joe Stevens, the Snowshoe communications director. “We’re trying as best as we can to open but Mother Nature is just not cooperating.”
In an attempt to make up for lost ground, Snowshoe is renting additional air compressors for 30 days and stationing them on flatbed trucks next to the compressor house. These mobile compressors will allow the resort to increase capacity on the main mountain by 20 percent, and at Silver Creek by 15 percent during marginal snowmaking weather. If the temperatures dip down to the low twenties, these percentages rise to 40 and 30 percent, respectively.
Another factor in Snowshoe’s favor is, believe it or not, the weather. Snow may be on tap in West Virginia for this Thursday. This storm and one just behind it will usher in a cold snap later on next week with low temperatures possibly dipping down to the single digits. Herb Stevens, the Skiing Weatherman, describes the changing weather situation as follows:
“The first storm and cold front will move through the region later this week, with the second to pass through late in the weekend/early next week. Behind this second system, it appears that the cold shot will be real, and have staying power, as a trough establishes itself in the East for the first time in more than a month. It is interesting to note that the warm spell will have a silver lining for resorts that are reached by lake effect snow (and those resorts are located as far south as the central Appalachians). The water temps of the lakes are well above normal, and the greater the contrast between the water temp and the air temp at 5000 feet, the more intense the lake effect snows. When arctic air passes over those open waters sometime next week…look out!!! In the broader sense, next week the weather pattern will have changed in favor of EASTERN ski resorts…and not a moment too soon.”
In short, there may be hope yet for a white or at least partially white Christmas.
“We’d like to have Cupp open on Christmas,” explains Stevens. “We’re going to give it a shot, but don’t bet the mortgage that it will happen.”
A more realistic prediction is that Snowshoe will have significant terrain open on the main mountain with limited terrain over in Silver Creek, but if this cold snap really does come, anything is possible - especially with Snowshoe’s increased compression capability.
John Sherwood is a columnist for DCSki. When he's not hiking, biking, or skiing, he works as an author of books on military history.