Seven Southeastern Ski Resorts Remain Open and Looking Good with Natural Snow and Snowmaking

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Happy Saturday skiers and snowboarders. This morning’s low temperatures range from 18° at Snowshoe Mountain West Virginia to mostly the low to mid 20s elsewhere on the various mountaintops in the region. Snowshoe Mountain and Timberline are also reporting 3″ or so of natural snow and that is welcome news indeed. More importantly, those frigid temperatures are allowing resorts in North Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland to make new, manmade snow.

Better still, it looks like we have some cold air hanging around for a few days and into next week – along with some natural snowfall. Meteorologist Brad Panovich has uploaded two Skier’s Forecast videos. We seemed to have had a programming glitch, but we have his latest post now. Check it out and plan your trip and get in some last turns on the mountain.

Skier’s Forecast March 11th, 2023 by Brad Panovich

The 30th Anniversary of the Storm of the Century, the Blizzard of ’93.

Much has been shared about that amazing storm. You can search SkiSoutheast or Google “Blizzard of ’93 SkiSoutheast” and you can read that post celebrating the 20th anniversary.

So I won’t belabor or repeat “old news” except to say that I had more snowfall from that ONE storm on March 12-14, 1993 than we have had for this entire winter at any location in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Greg Dobson, who was a longtime reader of SkiSoutheast sent us this official report of snowfall totals from that storm across the region.

The official numbers were impressive enough, but I can attest to the fact that I took a 4′ measuring stick and ran it down into the snow in my front yard at Seven Devils and it buried to 44″ at several locations. Drifts were 7′-8′ in many places. It was simply nuts how much snow fell in those few days.

While weather gurus had been talking about the impending storm for a few days, they didn’t have the forecasting tech that they have now and I remember perfectly of hearing that the North Carolina mountains MIGHT see 6-12″ from this storm. As it got closer, I had to leave on that Friday, March 12th to drive down and pick up one of my daughters to stay with us for that weekend. No snow was falling when I left that morning.

My trip from Seven Devils to Blythewood, S.C. took three hours or so. I had one of those old Motorola bag, car phones at that time and I promised to check in with my wife along the way. After picking my daughter up, I called home and my wife informed me that it had snowed about 2″ and she shared that the forecast was only for about 2″ more. I was disappointed and relieved all at the same time.

At that time I was driving a 1987 Ford Mustang GT with the 5.0 Liter engine and LOW, ground effects package. I had driven it in close to a foot of snow before, but it is NOT dependable snow transportation. So again, I was relieved.

I was driving through Charlotte, North Carolina around 2pm or so and I called home again. My wife shared that we now had probably 5-6″ on the ground and that the radio stations were saying that we should only expect another couple of inches.

I was still o-k-a-y but now thinking that perhaps I should have driven our old Suzuki Samurai – which was a beast of a cat in the snow. I kept a positive attitude and hoped for the best and carried on.

As I got into Hickory, North Carolina I called home again to hear that we were up to a foot of snow. Now I was getting concerned, but I trudged forward. As I got into Blowing Rock around 5pm or so I was happy to see that the road crews had done a great job of salting and scraping the roads as my steady driving kept my hotrod moving toward home. I was so confident (and stupid) that I decided to take the backroads, shortcut (Shull’s Mill Road) between Blowing Rock and Foscoe as I was concerned about traffic in Boone.

That was not my brightest moment as the roads were not as currently scraped. On top of that, it was puking snow.

I managed to get to the foot of Seven Devils, where the town had already flipped the mandatory 4wd signs on. However, I kept my momentum going up those switchbacks and then onto Devils Lake Drive. My driveway was not all that steep, but with a foot of snow already on the ground I new I could not carefully try to make it up so as I got to within about 50 yards of the driveway, I gave my V-8 more gas and roared up the drive to an awkward stop.

We had made it.

My in-laws van was buried early in the storm. Click to Enlarge

Now the fun began because there was indeed a foot or more of snow. When we got unpacked and in the house, my wife had shared that the radio station was now saying they had no idea how much snow was on the way, but that we should be prepared. My in-laws had traveled up early the preceding morning in an old van and they were there before the storm hit.

By Friday night, March 12th we already had close to two feet of snow. Winds had also created drifts that were burying the sides of my Mustang and the in-laws van.

The storm of the century was relentless all Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night and into Sunday. When it was over we had 44″ of snow in my front yard.

This groomer was not the one from Hawksnest, but this one from Ober Gatlinburg was doing the same thing. Click to Enlarge.

Roads were impassable until Hawksnest Ski Resort was gracious enough to drive their groomers down the main road, clearing a path. Even then, people were walking in front of their vehicles with long, steel rods, punching through the snow to make sure where the asphalt was. Otherwise, many people would have been stranded or worse.

We had curfews for a few days.

So the only thing left to do was PLAY and stay warm. The most snow I had ever seen prior to that was around two feet. This was a game changer. Instead of snowmen, we made snow families. We carved out igloos and we took long walks down the neighborhood. Some visitors who had rented were caught off guard from the storm and were going door-to-door to see if anyone had extra canned foods or otherwise.

We made a LOT of memories during those few days and we haven’t seen anything like it since. Hard to believe that we had more snow from that one storm that any of our ski areas have seen over the entire winter this year. Crazy!

Here are some photos from thirty years ago.

Click to Enlarge, This was early on Saturday as only 20″ or so had fallen at that time.
We had so much snow that we could make snow families and igloos. Click to Enlarge. That’s in the sweet red & purple jacket from 30 years ago!
This is a shot atop Beech Mountain TWO WEEKS LATER. That is my wife standing in front of the snow bank. She’s 5’4″   Click to Enlarge

Check back later as I plan to post an update and some insight about the Wolf Ridge Resort “sale”. Until then.


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