Charleston, WV – Skiers and snowboarders will be heading to the mountains of West Virginia this week as the first downhill area will be opening for the 2015/2016 season. Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County is planning to open Friday, December 11. As for the other alpine areas in the state, Canaan Valley, Timberline in Tucker County and Winterplace in Raleigh County are all planning to open this next Friday, December 18 (weather permitting), while Oglebay in Ohio County will open when weather permits. Natural snow is needed to allow the state’s Nordic areas, White Grass Touring Center in Tucker County and Elk River Touring Center in Pocahontas County to open.
While the temperatures have been on the mild side across West Virginia this fall, temperatures in the higher elevations have been cold enough for snowmaking operations to take place, allowing all of the resorts to make enough snow to begin the 2015-2016 season.
The snowmakers at all of the state’s ski resorts can produce manmade snow whenever temperatures permit, allowing the industry’s unsung heroes to cover the slopes for skiers and snowboarders. When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), over 20,000 tons of snow is being produced in West Virginia per hour, enough snow to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow each hour
The mountain state’s resorts annually attract over 800,000 skier visits, and last year that figure was again reached. “It’s always important to open as soon as possible for the season and although our start is a little bit behind schedule this year, colder temperatures are in the forecast, which is critical for snowmaking purposes,” says Terry Pfeiffer, President of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and President of Winterplace. The top states providing skiers and snowboarders to West Virginia slopes are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
The ski and snowboard season traditionally, weather permitting, continues from Thanksgiving through early April. The five-month long ski season in West Virginia has an estimated economic impact of over $250 million and 5,000 jobs at the resorts and other related companies.