March 12, 2008 Remembering the Blizzard of 1993 that Began 15 years Ago – Today!

First Trax

We’ll talk a little weather today, but need to share an announcement that we feared may happen sooner than later. Hawksnest has ceased ski and snowboarding ops for the season. They will offer tubing for today through Sunday and then close for the season on Sunday. (See further details below.)

TODAY is the day that the amazing Blizzard of 1993 began. Actually the storm was so impressive that when it was all said and done it was called by many names. In addition to the Blizzard of ’93, it was called The Storm of the Century, the ’93 Superstorm, and The White Hurricane (because of its cyclonic nature).

I remember that March 12th was a Friday that year and the forecast was for 2-3" around Boone and Banner Elk. I was living up on Seven Devils at the time and was making a turn-around trip from Boone to Columbia, South Carolina and back that evening. I stayed in contact with my wife as snow was falling all along my trip down through Charlotte (which was unusual) and remember her telling me that forecasters had updated their predictions for "another 2-3" of snow" since we’d already received 3-4" of snow and it was still snowing hard.

When I got back into the High Country around 7pm, we’d already received 7" or so of snow and it was really coming down – and the forecasters had again updated their forecast to say that we should all expect another couple of inches of snow for the area!

Of course the rest is history as the forecasters finally quit updating the forecast and simply started reporting record snowfalls as the snowstorm dumped snow all that day and night, all Saturday and Saturday night and when the snow finally abated, we had received 44" of snow in my yard at Seven Devils and drifts were well over six feet.

The storm was complex and massive, affecting at least 26 U.S. states and much of eastern Canada. The storm brought snow as far south as northern Florida, thundersnow from Texas to Pennsylvania, and whiteout conditions. Despite my novice snow measurement of 44", the official tallies said that some affected areas saw more than 3.5 feet of snow, and snowdrifts were as high as 35 feet!

<Image by NASA of the 1993 Storm

This satellite image shows the massive Storm of the Century on March 13, 1993. Though the storm was forecast to strike the snow-prone Appalachian Mountains, hundreds of people were nonetheless rescued from the Appalachians, many caught completely off-guard on the Appalachian Trail, or visiting cabins and lodges in remote locales. The heaviest snow recorded was at Newfound Gap, where U.S. 441 crosses the Tennessee and North Carolina border, with five feet and drifts up to 14 feet were observed at Mount Mitchell. Snowfall totals of between 2 and 3 feet were widespread across northwestern North Carolina. Boone, North Carolina — in a high-elevation area accustomed to heavy snowfalls — was nonetheless caught off guard by 24 hours of below zero temperatures along with storm winds, which gusted as high as 110 miles per hour. Electricity was not restored to many isolated rural areas for a week or more, with power outages occurring all over the east.

Lots of babies were conceived during this time and High Country area schools even call these children "Blizzard Babies" as nine months later the area saw a spike in births!


Today will be 61° or so in the High Country and sunny. Friday looks good for the first half and rainy later in the day. Saturday looks wet with some possible heavy rain and highs in the mid 50s. Sunday and Monday looks sunny with highs in the 40s and 50s…and then some more rain is in the forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday.

Even further north into West Virginia, the forecast is for sunny skies for today with temps into the upper 50s and the a 30% chance of rain tonight, 60% chance of rain Friday and Friday night, and an 80% chance of rain mixed with some snow Saturday – then snow Saturday night with a low around 21°. Sunday and Monday look nice with sunny skies and highs in the 30s and lows in the teens and 20s.


We hate being right on this particular annoucement, but Hawksnest Resort is closed for skiing and snowboarding for the season. They closed this past Sunday, expecting to reopen for skiing today through the weekend and had said that if the weather allowed for snow or snowmaking, that they would operate longer. We the forecast that we saw for this week and next, we speculated that they would not be able to reopen, nor continue, so officially Hawksnest’s season ended this past Sunday, March 9th. They WILL offer snowtubing today through Sunday and cease that operation as well on Sunday.

Sugar Mountain, Cataloochee and Appalachian are looking darn nice right now so get out and enjoy the great March conditions while you can.

Sugar Mountain has an Easter Egg Hunt going on, Sunday, March 23rd! Dress up in your Easter costume and join Sugar Bear and Sweetie Bear on the slopes in search of prize-filled eggs. An egg containing a 2008-2009 season pass will be scattered among hundreds of other prize-filled eggs! Valid lift/slope tickets or season passes are required for participation. Participants 12 years or younger are welcome, bunnies included! Please meet promptly at 9 am at the bottom of the Yellow Lift. The Easter Egg Hunt is on the Lower Flying Mile ski slope and is for skiers and snowboarders only.

So if you’re going to ski or ride for the rest of the 2007-2008 season in North Carolina, you’ll have to do it at Appalachian, Cataloochee or Sugar Mountain. Isn’t that the case year after year anyway?!?!


Bryce Resort is now reporting Spring Conditions and we are reporting "Decent to Good" base depth which means that you can expect some thin coverage and bare spots on the 6 trails they have open.

Massanutten is still operating with 11 trails, snowtubing and terrain parks. They are reporting granular conditions.

Wintergreen is open for day skiing only today with 14 trails and The Plunge open for your enjoyment.


Canaan Valley is reporting 27° and 16 trails open for day skiing today.

Snowshoe Mountain made some snow overnight and they have 58 trails open for today and Silver Creek is open for night skiing as well. They have snowmobiling, snow tubing and terrain parks all looking great for today. Laura Parquette writes, "It’s hard to believe there are only 18 days left in the season! Conditions are excellent right now, with soft snow that should be enjoyed under sunny skies today. Temperatures should be quite mild today, remaining that way through Saturday with rain possible as we head into the weekend.. Our amazing snowmaking crew was able to blast snow overnight in the basin area, what may be our last snowmaking opportunity through Saturday night. As they have all season, our groomers have done a tremendous job keeping the slopes in great shape–and they will continue to do so until the end of the month! This weekend some of the region’s best bands will heat up the mountain during the Homegrown Music Fest…so call 1-877-441-4FUN to make your reservations NOW!"

You heard her! Make plans to go!

Timberline has 27 trails open for today with what should be great conditions.

Winterplace is 100% open (STILL) with 28 trails, snowtubing and terrain parks open! They have some fun planned for this weekend. They call them the Crazy Daze Races, March 15 – 16, 2008.

They write, "Come dressed in your wackiest, craziest and funniest costume! Gift certificates awarded for the top costumes both days. The first 25 skiers in full costume each day win a FREE lift ticket!

Also, Head-to-Head Racing to see who will be King of the Hill. Plus, win cool stuff – Skis and a board from Rossignol! Sign up at the MountainHouse from 9am to noon. Cost is $5.00. The Race begins at 1pm. (Excludes Participation of: Winterplace Ski Resort employees, other ski resort employees and any affiliates of the Winterplace Race Team)."

Wisp Resort in Maryland is at 34° this morning and they have 28 trails open with groomed, granular conditions.

If YOU have an interesting Blizzard Story to share with us, email it to: [email protected]  and we’ll share it with our readers over the next day or two as we celebrate that great storm!

Until Next time…

Be sure to visit  for more news from the rest of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas!

Send your snow photos, videos, comments or emails to: [email protected]

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