When Superstorm Sandy collided with a cold front from the west on Tuesday morning, it spread blizzard conditions -- high winds and wet snow -- over parts of West Virginia and neighboring Appalachia states. The unexpected weather left many without power, but the early winter storm also gave several Appalachian ski resorts a green light for opening.
According to the National Weather Service and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, lower West Virginia, along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, received a foot of snow Tuesday night alone, with higher mountain areas reporting close to two feet. And the snow is still falling.
Two North Carolina ski resorts -- Sugar Mountain Resort and Cataloochee Ski Area -- announced surprise early openings on Wednesday in light of the recent snowfall, while others are on deck for early November openings.
Getting close to a foot of snow from Sandy Tuesday night, Sugar Mountain Resort's 9 a.m. opening marks its earliest in the mountain's 43-year history. But making history isn't the only thing Sugar Mountain is celebrating on Wednesday -- the resort encourages its early birds to join in the Halloween festivities by wearing costumes on the slopes. Sugar Mountain currently averages between 6 and 30 inches of manmade and natural packed powder, and has opened one lift and two slopes for a discounted full-day lift ticket of $30.
Cataloochee Ski Area also opened its slopes Wednesday after packing a base of 8 to 15 inches from Superstorm Sandy. For just $25, skiers and boarders can access two lifts and three different trails until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. As a Halloween special, the resort is giving anyone who buys a lift ticket today the chance to win a season pass for the 2012-2013 season.
West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Resort is also gearing up for an early opening in November. According to spokesperson Krysty Ronchetti, Snowshoe Mountain received over two feet of snow on Tuesday night. Due to power outages, however, the resort is unable to make any additional snow right now, but is hoping to open their slopes as early as Nov. 21. Snowshoe Mountain continues to remain under a blizzard warning until later Wednesday.
Southern Pennsylvania's Seven Springs Mountain Resort also received over a foot of snow as a result of Sandy's blizzard. Due to the snow's wet and dense nature, spokesperson Anna Weltz said, "It's not suitable nor safe for skiing." Like other East Coast ski resorts, Seven Springs Mountain Resort merely hopes this storm is a sign of an early winter to come, and eagerly awaits their opening.