Chip Chase can't remember a blizzard warning in the local forecast for Canaan Valley, West Virginia, well, ever. But today, the Vermont native woke up at the base of Whitegrass, the cross country and backcountry skiing area he owns in northern West Virginia, with thirty inches of heavy snow blocking his door.
New York City was the bull's-eye for Sandy, a record-breaking, 14-foot storm surge that flooded Ground Zero, the subway, and several of the major tunnels connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn and New Jersey, and exploded a transformer that cut power to much of downtown. Fires, massive flooding, and falling trees have wreaked havoc from Maryland, New Jersey and Queens up to Connecticut, with the damage incurred anticipated to cost close to $20 billion, and having claimed 30 lives as of 2 p.m. this afternoon.
But in West Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, the storm brought temps hovering around freezing and wet snow. Locals sinking up to their knees at Whitegrass and the surrounding area. Whitegrass, which was planning to open with the storm snow but now can't due to a lack of power to their facilities, is anticipating another one to two feet, although the center's Laurie Little said snow had been light as of this morning.
A few hours south, Snowshoe Mountain reported 19 inches at their base as of 2 p.m., and high winds reaching 60 mph. They're also expecting another one to two feet of snow, although Snowshoe is not allowing any uphill skiing due to security and safety reasons.
North Carolina's Sugar Mountain, which received nine inches overnight and is anticipating another 10-16 by tonight, plans to open for Halloween tomorrow. That looks to be the only option for early lift-assisted skiing out of Sandy, although those with touring equipment should be able to access a lot of deep snow in the Canaan Valley, Snowshoe area. Whitegrass's Bob Leffler anticipates another foot or so locally above 3,000 feet on west-facing slopes, and advises skiers to "brush the dust off boots and skis, and head for the valley immediately."
As we get reports of the first rounds of backcountry skiers getting after it in West Virginia, we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, our thoughts are with those in parts of the East Coast whose Sandy experience comes with a much thinner silver lining.