This should come as no surprise, but ski conditions throughout the Southeast are the best they've been this year. The recent cold has given the region's ski areas the best snowmaking opportunity of the 2008-09 season. So good, that the following areas are all completely open: Appalachian, Cataloochee, Sapphire Valley, Sugar Mountain, Bryce, Massanutten, Homestead, Wintergreen — even tiny Cloudmont in Alabama, with it's two, thousand-foot-long slopes and 150-foot vertical, is operating at 100 percent.
At Wintergreen, for instance, all 26 slopes are open (though only four lifts are operating during the week). Night skiing will run until 10 p.m. and the base across the mountain is a reported 30 to 50 inches. The forecast calls for highs in the mid- to upper-40s today and tomorrow, with temperatures returning to the 30s at least into Monday. Look for stellar conditions to continue.
Sugar Mountain has all six lifts and all 20 runs open; with temperatures expected hover around freezing, Sugar could make snow during the day but promises it won't. Great news for skiers and boarders who despise whiteout conditions (and the accompanying snow glaze, on a cloudless day). Meanwhile, up the road at Ski Beech, 11 of 15 runs are open and the resort is reporting packed powder (which its Live Web cam would see to support).
In West Virginia, Winterplace, another popular day destination for Triangle skiers, has 21 of 28 trails open, along with its terrain park, snowtubing park and kiddie snowtubing park.
Also in Virginia, if you're planning a trip of three days or more, Snowshoe Mountain (a six-hour drive) expects to open Lower Shay's on Friday, making the mountain 100 percent open — all 60 runs. Snowshoe typically gets 180 inches of snow in a season; so far it's already gotten 132 inches and more snow is forecast for Saturday and Monday. If you can swing a midweek escape, Snowshoe has some pretty good packages. (And if you have school-age kids and were planning a trip over the three-day President's Day holiday weekend, you might want to check with your kid's school: Several district's are using President's Day as a makeup day for this week's snow day.)