Winter temperatures too warm to accommodate snow, real or artificial, have forced a second West Virginia ski area to temporarily suspend operations.
On Monday, Winterplace Resort, between Beckley and Princeton, announced that its slopes would be closed through Thursday to optimize snowmaking and grooming before re-opening Friday, weather permitting.
“We appreciate your patience as Mother Nature continues to be challenging,” Winterplace’s management posted on the resort’s website.
The state’s southernmost ski area joins Timberline Four Seasons Resort, West Virginia’s northernmost, which suspended operations last Wednesday because of a lack of snow and a short supply of snowmaking temperatures.
Meanwhile, on Monday, skiers and snowboarders at Canaan Valley Resort, in Tucker County, which has doubled its snowmaking capacity in recent years, had 19 trails to choose from, with snow depths ranging from 24 to 36 inches, and three lifts to ride.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, the state’s largest ski area, had 47 of its 60 trails and 13 of its 14 lifts open Monday, thanks in large part to the installation of nearly $4 million worth of new snowmaking equipment last summer and fall. The Pocahontas County resort’s new owner, Alterra Mountain Co., added 275 high-efficiency snowguns to Snowshoe Mountain’s existing arsenal.
The investment helped Snowshoe make an early debut for the 2018-19 season on Nov. 21, and keep the majority of its trails open past the Christmas-New Year’s holiday period. Among trails now open are Snowshoe’s signature mile-plus-long black diamond Western Territory runs, Cupp and Shay’s Revenge.
National Weather Service forecasts indicate that starting Tuesday night, constant, subfreezing temperatures accompanied by sporadic snow showers will return to West Virginia’s ski country and last through much of the weekend.
By closing Monday through Thursday, Winterplace crews “will be able to place snow guns in the middle of the trails and hammer slopes with man-made snow with every gun possible,” said Joe Stevens, spokesman for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.
“The natural snow in the forecast will also help,” he said. “The cold weather is coming in just in time for the resorts to prepare for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend that is coming up. They’ll be ready.”
Elsewhere in the region on Monday, two of North Carolina’s six ski areas were closed over a lack of snow, along with one resort in Virginia and one in Tennessee.
While West Virginia’s busiest cross-country ski area, White Grass Touring Center, in Canaan Valley, has had 29 ski-able days so far this season, its trails were closed last weekend and on Monday. In Wheeling, Oglebay Resort’s ski slope and tubing park have yet to open for the season.