• Snow, strong winds to blast mountains ahead of holidays

    By: Dave Faherty


    BLOWING ROCK, N.C. - Across the mountains, people are preparing for the cold blast.

    The biggest impact won't be just the snow, but what could be some very strong winds.

    In Boone, road crews scrambled to get the plows back on the trucks. Some workers were then sent home to rest ahead of the storm later Thursday night. They'll be back at work by 10 p.m.

    "It has been upper 50s and all of the sudden go back to the 20s which is typical for Watauga County, but we have not been accustomed to that," said Kevin Whittington with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

    Workers at Blue Ridge Electric are preparing for the storm where on some of the mountain peaks they could see wind gusts topping 50 mph Friday.

    "Get the power back on as quick as we can but be safe about what we are doing," said Richard Butler with Blue Ridge Electric.

    Snow and colder temperatures are just what ski resorts are hoping for this Christmas, as they have struggled to stay open this season.

    At Sugar Mountain, there was more grass showing than snow Thursday, but that could change Friday as the temperatures fall. The holidays make up nearly a quarter of all their business. The resort says it employs more than 400 people.

    "It is very important. A lot of people are waiting to go to work. This week coming up is when we'd hire a lot of people," said Gunther Jochl with Sugar Mountain Ski Resort.

    The impact of the ski resorts can also be felt far away from the slopes. At the Best Western in Banner Elk, they took more than 50 calls Thursday as word spread about the colder weather. Outside, they are like everyone else here, hoping for some snow soon.

    "We are telling them it is coming. We can feel the cold front coming through. It is getting cold out there and we are excited," said Manager Shannon Wooten.

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