New employees at Sugar Mountain never expected to get ramped up so quickly for their new jobs. On Saturday, they were recruited at the resort’s job fair; snowmaking began on Sunday; the lifts will churn for the first day Wednesday (Oct. 31).
That’s Halloween and it’s appropriate. Mother Nature’s trick will be a skier’s treat. This is the earliest opening in Sugar Mountain history, surpassing the Nov. 5 opening date in 1976. They can thank Hurricane Sandy for the record-breaking performance. (see Monday's SnoCountry.com story).
While the Atlantic coast has been pummeled by wind and rain, the inland effect in the Appalachian Mountains has provided the white gold. The snow guns were pounding trails on Monday as temperatures held in the mid-20s.
“We plan on opening Upper and Lower Flying Mile,” reported spokesperson Kim Jochl to SnoCountry.com. “Weather forecasters predict a total of 8-14 inches throughout the night (Monday) and into tomorrow (Tuesday).”
But there will be more early-season sweetness to accompany Sugar. Cataloochee, in Maggie Valley, N.C. can be found in the Great Smokies. Cataloochee is another on the Halloween theme as they intend to begin serving skiers and riders on Wednesday. Wisp, in Maryland, picked up 17 inches of snow and is considering opening early.
Hidden Valley Resort (Pa.) received an early Halloween treat with up to 12 inches of snowfall arriving in the early morning hours Tuesday. While the Resort does not expect to open this week, mountain crews are busy preparing for the upcoming ski and snowboard season and will open at the first opportunity for sustainable conditions.
At Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, about 300 miles Northeast of Sugar Mountain, the annual ski patrol refresher course had just concluded Sunday and Sandy arrived Monday. Her largesse was being felt on Monday, when mountain officials stated that the predicted two-foot snowstorm had evolved into three feet and was already underway, augmented by the snowmaking fleet.
“We are still looking at the brunt of the storm ahead of us,” Snowshoe's Director of Sales and Marketing David Dekema told SnoCountry.com. “The forecast is for three feet and more, and we are making snow as well. Our groomers and snowmakers want to take advantage of this. The goal is (to open) Nov. 21.”
If there is a downside to the storm it comes from consumers that were denied last year due to uncooperative weather, leading to a short season. The pent-up demand can be overwhelming, and on Monday afternoon, that was evident at Snowshoe’s call center.
But as Dekema pointed out, 24 hours earlier the ground was bare and soft. Mountain managers will tell you that heavy grooming machines churning over heavy, wet snow and soft ground can ruin the long-term impact of the snowfall.
Nevertheless, the news was so significant that the Weather Channel broadcast live from Snowshoe Village on Monday, and as darkness approached, they and several local television affiliates were occupying the village.
In the midst of serious weather up and down the East coast, a moment of levity was provided when a Snow Chaser, shooting video for his blog, arrived in the midst of the pounding in a Mercedes sedan, wearing sweat pants.
Top Photo: Sandy snow dump (Weather Channel); Left photo: Sugar Mt. opens Halloween
Bottom Photos: Sandy has already dropped 19" of snow on Snowshoe Mountain Resort and another 1-2 feet is in the forecast.