Beech Mountain shines due to COVID cabin fever and heavy snowfall

Nation & World News

BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Beech Mountain is booming as COVID cabin fever and heavy snowfall combine.

“It’s been a perfect storm of cold temperatures and natural snowfall,” said Talia Freeman with Beech Mountain Resort.

The slopes have been covered in winter white nearly every day so far this season.

“I’ve worked here for over 10 years, and I don’t think we’ve had a season [with] this much snow since about 2011,” she said.

On top of that, the pandemic has sent a surge of tourists looking for a break from virtual meetings and a dose of fresh air.

“We were like ‘what can we do that’s outdoors and a change of scenery?’ So North Carolina,” one family from Ft. Lauderdale said.

Another family from Chapel Hill is happy to get some time to relax.

“I’ve been working a lot with COVID during the wintertime and we felt like we were ready for a vacation so we wanted to come out and try to teach her how to ski.”

It was one little girl’s firt time hitting the slopes, along with FOX 46 meteorologist Elisa Raffa.

Freeman, who is the Director of Marketing with Beech Mountain, is calling this season a success.

“Our slopes are 100% open, so we have all 17 trails open,” she said.

It was somewhat of a miracle after last year’s six inch dud in Boone.

“Last year we weren’t able to get the backside of the mountain open…It’s been a drastic difference.”

This drastic difference is a big deal because overall snow is declining and cold is shrinking. Winter is warming the fastest in North Carolina, and as temperatures warm, more snow falls as rain. At a similar elevation Asheville snow is declining in all seasons, and yearly snow totals have been shaved by 5 inches since 1970.

And while ski resorts can make their own snow, they need cold snaps to get the white stuff pumping, “I think what we’ve noticed, the change over the years, is they come in shorter windows,” Freeman said.

In fact, Asheville finds cold snaps with below normal days shrinking by six days since 1970. 19 fewer nights dropping below freezing.

“We completely overhauled our pump system. So now we can pump about 4,000 gallons of water a minute and convert that into snow…We can really capitalize on say 10-20 hours of snow-making temperatures and really maximize that, whereas years ago you had longer windows,” Freeman said.

This left Beech ready for your skis, which is great news for those who want to feel the chill.

“I love snow, I love anything that’s cold!” one little girl from Miami said.

“Everyone is looking for the silver lining, it’s been a rough year. It’s been really positive for us to make our customers happy and provide an outlet for people that’s safe, and obviously, the snow has just been magical to say the least,” Freeman said.

And she’s optimistic for more magical seasons to come.

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