High Country skiers get snow just in time for holiday weekend

Skiers flocked to Appalachian Ski Mountain Friday to enjoy a fresh blanket of snow. They welcomed the news that more snow was still headed to the North Carolina High Country.

Already, several inches had fallen at higher elevations Friday morning.

Many people weren’t as excited for the winter weather, and Channel 9′s Dave Faherty saw numerous problems on the secondary roads. When he got into the High Country, snow was still falling along Highway 105 west of Boone.

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The snow on Beech Mountain kept some drivers from going anywhere that morning, including a family from Florida who was hoping to go home that day.

“I got a Subaru because it’s all-wheel drive. Suppose to be able to make it up anything,” Zach James said. “But I overlooked the summer tire thing. And honestly, we weren’t expecting this.”

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A couple of miles away, a group from Atlanta wasn’t going to let the snowfall keep them from the ski slopes. They left their car behind, walking nearly a mile to ski at Beech Mountain.

“My boyfriend’s car got stuck and it’s just not really making its way like it should,” Eleanor Skinkle said. “Hopefully someone can offer us a ride, that’s what we’re hoping for. Get out of this cold.”

Road conditions

But there was quite a difference at the higher elevations in Avery County. On some of the secondary roads on Beech Mountain, there were all kinds of issues as the roads froze. Even wrecker companies found the weather was tough at higher elevations.

Faherty spotted a driver pulled over and putting chains on as he responded to drivers stuck on the mountainside.

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“It’s these side roads that are bad. The main roads aren’t too bad,” said Logan Corrai with High South Transportation. “Once you get out on these side roads where it’s all ice, it’s where people are having problems at.”

The temperature, which plunged more than 20 degrees overnight, led to the icy conditions. The wind was expected to pick up later Friday.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend is huge for the ski industry. At Appalachian Ski Mountain Thursday, crews were preparing for one of the biggest weekends of the year. The owner said the the winter weather returned just in time. He said there would be more than 400 people working there over the holiday weekend.

As many as 20 North Carolina Department of Transportation trucks were out early Friday morning in Watauga County making sure everyone arrived safely, including a group of friends from near Tampa, Florida.

“Exactly what I came for. We’re going snowboarding later today so it should be a good time,” said Cole Hughes.

“But it is freezing. Definitely not used to this at all,” Paris Faughn said.

The High County prepares

Faherty was in Blowing Rock Thursday afternoon. Blaine Marshall and his family were visiting from South Florida that day, and it was hard to miss the shorts he was wearing along Main Street.

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“As long as there is no wind it’s not too bad,” he said. “It’s gloomy but not so bad. Sign of things to come? Perhaps.”

Andrew Gragg and his son live in the area. He said the weather this winter was enough to give someone whiplash.

“Been wet and mild,” Gragg said. “It went bitter cold and then went 60 degrees and then bitter cold again. We don’t know what’s coming.”

In Boone, NCDOT was prepared for the possibility of snow Thursday. Plows were on many of the trucks and they had a full supply of salt.

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Kyle Massey was visiting from South Carolina with his mom. He said he wanted to see snow but also stay safe.

“When we came up here we weren’t really expecting that,” he said. “We’re in my mom’s little car so it might be a little difficult to get out of the hotel.”

The town of Blowing Rock averages about 35 inches of snow each year, but has only seen a couple inches this winter. The schools there usually have 15 to 18 snow days each year, but the superintendent said so far this winter, students have only missed one day of class.

In Avery County, schools were closed Friday because of the snow. The school district said it made the day an optional teacher workday instead.

Click here for an updated list of closures and delays.

(WATCH BELOW: Will it snow in the Carolinas? Here’s what you can expect this winter)