The mountains of West Virginia are receiving another coating of snow this week, just in time for the opening of the 2011-2012 ski season.
Snowshoe Mountain was set to open Friday, with five trails and three lifts at the Snowshoe area and three trails and one lift at the Silver Creek area. Three other ski resort areas in the state - Canaan Valley, Timberline and Winterplace - all plan to open for the season Dec. 17.
The natural snow allowed one of the state's Nordic areas, White Grass Touring Center, to begin providing cross-country skiing last week.
Photo courtesy of Snowshoe Mountain
Ski season is under way around the state of West Virginia, including at Snowshoe Mountain, which opened on Friday. Canaan Valley, Timberline and Winterplace plan to open for the season on Dec. 17.
West Virginia's resorts annually attract more than 800,000 skier visits, and that number is still attainable despite a two-week delay due to the recent mild temperatures.
"It looks like winter is finally arriving and our snowmakers are ready to get the slopes covered," said Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association. "Mother Nature has thrown us a bit of a curveball this season, but we can handle it with the upcoming cold temperatures for our snowmaking systems."
The top states providing skiers and snowboarders visiting West Virginia slopes are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
Along with the natural snow, the temperatures in the higher elevations have dropped so that snowmaking operations can resume this week, allowing West Virginia areas to provide excellent season-opening conditions. The snowmakers at all of the resorts will produce manmade snow whenever temperatures permit.
When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), more than 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. That's a manmade blizzard for skiers, snowboarders and snow tubers to enjoy in the state's mountains.
The ski and snowboard season traditionally continues through early April. The five-month ski season in West Virginia has an estimated economic impact of more than $250 million and 5,000 jobs at the resorts and other related companies.
More information on skiing and snowboarding is available at www.goskiwv.com.