Storm could bring 1 foot of snow to western North Carolina

By Michael Biesecker

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 9:03 a.m. MDT

RALEIGH, N.C. — The cold part of Hurricane Sandy that is causing problems along the East Coast could bring 1 foot or more of snow to the mountains of western North Carolina, potentially allowing the region's ski resorts to open weeks early.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of western North Carolina until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Watauga County Emergency Management Director Steve Sudderth said Monday morning that a wet, heavy snow began falling in Boone but the ground was warm enough to keep it from sticking to the roads. Sudderth said the snow was primarily accumulating at elevations above 4,000 feet and that local residents are very used to dealing with such weather. Boone averages nearly 3 feet of snowfall each winter.

No power outages were reported and county students went to school on time.

"Life is good," Sudderth said.

Forecasters say an inch or more of snow could fall in the area early Monday. Up to 5 inches of snow was possible Monday night and up to 8 inches of snow was possible Tuesday in higher elevations.

Winds of 25 mph to 35 mph were expected to bring down power lines. Gusts of up to 65 mph are possible.

The early snowfall will be a boon for the area's ski resorts, which have sometimes struggled to keep their slopes open amid a warming climate.

Kim Jochl at Sugar Mountain said they had already received a couple inches of natural snow and that snow makers had been running since Sunday night.

The resort plans to open Wednesday for Halloween, the earliest Sugar has ever been able to open in more than 40 years of operation. Jochl said the earliest prior date the resort had opened for the season was Nov. 6, 1976.

"It's unprecedented," she said.

Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck

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