West Virginia's 2021-2022 ski season arrived in time for Thanksgiving weekend, thanks to a succession of days with subfreezing temperatures to accommodate snowmaking and sporadic accumulations of natural snow.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, in Pocahontas County, got the snowball rolling with an announcement it would open at 9 a.m. Thursday with nine trails served by three lifts, providing access to 30 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain.
Timberline Mountain in Tucker County announced that it will offer a "preview weekend" of skiing and snowboarding on limited terrain Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. An official opening date for Timberline's 2021-2022 ski season will be announced later.
New equipment installed on Timberline's 4,268-foot mountain since the last ski season came to an end has given Timberline the highest snowmaking capacity since it first opened to skiers in the mid-1980s.
At Snowshoe Mountain early Wednesday, the average snow accumulation on trails scheduled to open on Thursday was 30 inches at Snowshoe, the state's loftiest ski area at 4,848 feet.
Meanwhile, the state's other alpine areas -- Canaan Valley Resort, Winterplace and Oglebay -- plan to open in mid-December, in time for the Christmas-New Year holiday period, according to Joe Stevens of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.
Stevens said the state's ski resorts have the collective snowmaking capacity to produce 20,000 tons of snow per hour -- enough to cover 20 football fields with a foot-deep accumulation.
On average, the state's ski resorts attract nearly 800,000 skier visits annually, generating an estimated economic impact of more than $250 million per year. Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida are the states producing the most winter sports enthusiasts to hit the slopes at West Virginia's alpine areas.
Stevens urged those planning to ski, snowboard and snow-tube in West Virginia to get up to date on all COVID-19 safety requirements in place this season before arriving at the resorts they visit.