By Nathan Ham
Rarely do you see a day begin with temperatures in the mid-60s and end up below freezing with snowflakes and 50 MPH wind gusts, but that was what the High Country saw on Thursday.
A weather front moved through the area yesterday, bringing nearly an inch and a half of rain, a tornado watch and a high wind warning to Boone during the day, followed with a low temperature that dropped below freezing and wind gusts that routinely peaked over 40 MPH.
The high temperature in Boone on Thursday was recorded at 66.5 degrees at 1:36 p.m. The low dropped all the way to 31.6 degrees at 11:51 p.m., according to data provided by Ray’s Weather Center. The biggest wind gust in Boone was recorded at 44 MPH and the town officially received 1.46 inches of rain in the 24-hour span.
Another interesting piece of data for Boone during the month of October was that the difference between the warmest temperature (84.1 degrees on October 3) to the coldest temperature (30.9 degrees on October 24) was 53.2 degrees.
Back to Thursday’s weather, other areas also experienced a sizeable temperature swing throughout the day.
“Yesterday was truly a weather day on Beech Mountain. It went from a high of 58 degrees about midday to about 19 degrees this morning,” said Fred Pfohl, owner of Fred’s General Mercantile. “It was a typical Beech Mountain winter day, but it was amazing how things can change. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in less than two hours in the middle of the afternoon. You can expect anything.”
The temperature has not gotten above freezing yet on Friday at Beech Mountain with the temperature sitting at 28 degrees around 3 p.m.
Over at Grandfather Mountain, the temperature bottomed out at 18.1 degrees at 6 a.m. Friday morning. The wind chill dropped to 4.5 degrees below zero at midnight with wind gusts reaching 62 MPH according to Frank Ruggiero, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Two of the area ski resorts fired up their snowmaking machines on Thursday night with the cold weather setting in.
“We started making snow this morning at 4 a.m. and we’re going to keep trying as long as we can so we’re just waiting on the weather right now. It has warmed up a little bit but we have a pretty solid window of snowmaking so we are going to keep at it as long as we can,” said Talia Freeman, the Director of Marketing at Beech Mountain Resort. “So far everything is working well and we’re going to keep making snow in preparation of our opening day which is November 23.”
Sugar Mountain is hoping to be open even sooner, hinting at a possible opening day happening this Sunday.
“Last night we had a light dusting of snow on the mountain and around Banner Elk. We started to fire up the snow guns last night about 4 a.m. and we blew the base guns until about 1 p.m. today where it got to 35 degrees so we had to stop,” said Morgan Lecka, the Group Sales Director and Marketing Assistant at Sugar Mountain Resort.
The temperature at the summit of Sugar Mountain is still at 27 degrees so the snow guns are continuing to fire away.
“We should have perfect conditions to keep blowing snow, especially at night. During the day we might have to cut the base guns off when it gets above 32 degrees, but as of right now there’s a good four to five inches of snow at the summit,” said Lecka. “We are hoping, praying and getting prepared to open on Sunday. That is the goal. If everything goes okay, we should be able to do that.”
Lecka added that they are hoping to have anywhere from 6-to-10 trails opened by Sunday. Night skiing will not be available right now until later in the month.
Thursday Weather Recap
Boone: High – 66.5, Low – 31.6, Wind Gust – 44 MPH
Appalachian Ski Mountain: High – 63.4, Low – 27.5, Wind Gust – 26 MPH
Snake Mountain: High – 61.8, Low – 24.7, Wind Gust – N/A
Aho: High – 63.2, Low – 28.2, Wind Gust – 30 MPH
Seven Devils: High – 65 Low – 29.1, Wind Gust – 28 MPH
Zionville: High – 68.6, Low – 31.1, Wind Gust – 13 MPH
Blowing Rock: High – 63.7, Low – 28, Wind Gust – 31 MPH
West Jefferson: High – 67.5, Low – 32.1, Wind Gust – 29 MPH
Jefferson: High – 68.2, Low – 32.2, Wind Gust – 41 MPH
Phillips Gap: High – 65.4, Low – 34.4, Wind Gust – 34 MPH
Beech Mountain: High – 59.5, Low – 18.9, Wind Gust – 22 MPH
Sugar Mountain: High – 59.4, Low – 19.1, Wind Gust – 44 MPH