Given the ice and snow in the forecast this week, its little surprise that ski season officially has arrived in West Virginia.
Snowshoe Mountain announced Monday that it would be the first downhill area to throw open its slopes when it commences operations on Wednesday.
Going into its 40th season, Snowshoe will have three lifts and around 10 trails open this week.
Elsewhere in the state, Canaan Valley, Timberline, Oglebay and Winterplace plan to open in early December.
“It’s great to open for the season, all of the resorts are ready for the skiers and snowboarders,” said Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and president of Winterplace.
The ski and snowboard season in West Virginia usually lasts for five months, from Thanksgiving to early April. Given the frigid temperatures of the past week, ski areas are busy making snow.
Snowmaking conditions are at their best when temperatures are in the teens. During optimum conditions, over 20,000 tons of snow can be produced statewide every hour. That’s enough to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow — per hour.
The tourism impact from skiing in West Virginia is significant. The state averages 800,000 skier visits annually, and the industry, it is estimated, has an economic impact for the state of $250 million a year, creating some 5,000 jobs at ski resorts and related businesses.
The top states for visitors are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
This week, those skiers and snowboarders will be heading to Snowshoe.
“The skiers and snowboarders here for the Thanksgiving holiday are going to be pleased with the amount of snow we are opening up with,” said Dave Dekema, Snowshoe Mountain’s marketing director. “We are also expecting natural snow this week so that will help the conditions.”
For the latest on those conditions, at Snowshoe and elsewhere in the state, visit www.goskiwv.com