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Ski areas across northern New England were giddy Wednesday at the prospect of a major Thanksgiving snowstorm that is bringing early season skiers to the slopes and offering a promising start to the winter season.
Cold weather last weekend enabled the Mount Snow ski area in southern Vermont to make snow and open with some of the best early skiing the resort has seen in some time, said spokesman Dave Meeker. The slopes were closed Monday through Wednesday but reopen for the season on Thursday.
"Coming off a weekend like that and now having a foot of snow in the forecast scheduled to fall the day and the night before we open full-time for the season is, like, a dream come true," Meeker said.
The snow began to hit Wednesday morning in much of the Northeast. The National Weather Service is forecasting a foot or more across inland parts of the region before the storm ends Thursday morning.
More than 200 flights were cancelled and delays were expected for thousands more.
But the storms that are seen as a burden in southern New England and the New York area are welcomed in parts of northern New England where thousands depend on snow for their livelihoods.
Matt Sonak, of Lordship, Connecticut, and Danee Freda, of Montvale, New Jersey, saw lots of accidents on their drive to Mount Snow Wednesday. "It was a little scary," Freda said.
But now that they've arrived, they're looking forward to the conditions.
"I was just looking to hopefully have a couple of trails open with man-made snow," Sonak said. "It's been cold so they could make snow, but we get a foot of snow and that's even better."
The Jay Peak Ski Resort, just south of the Canadian border in Vermont, was opened for limited skiing and riding last weekend and it plans to open for the season on Friday, giving many of the resort's employees Thanksgiving off.
The resort saw its reservations for the weekend jump from 78 percent occupancy on Tuesday to 84 percent on Wednesday, said resort spokesman J.J. Toland.
"This is a boon for us," Toland said.
Not only will the storm bring more people to Jay Peak than expected during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it will get people in southern areas thinking about snow and trips to the slopes.
"What it will really do is push the Christmas holidays," Toland said.
Over in Maine, the Sugarloaf and Sunday River are open and others are expected to open next month, said Greg Sweetser, executive director of the Ski Maine Association.
"Having this natural snow on the ground gets the Nordic skiers excited," he said. "This will just spread the joy further south."
Noelle Tuttle, spokeswoman for Sugarloaf, agreed that the snowfall will mean more business for the Carrabassett Valley resort.
"Every time we get a rumor that there's a big snowstorm moving in, it generates a lot of excitement," she said.
AP reporter Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.
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