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Eyes on Sandy: Snow Falling in High Country; Avery County Schools Closed, No Decision on Watauga

By Paul T. Choate

Hurricane Sandy will have widespread impact across the East Coast. Radar from Intellicast

Oct. 29, 2012. The impacts of Hurricane Sandy have begun impacting the High Country, forcing Avery County Schools to close today and peppering the area with snow.

According to Watauga County Schools central office staff, school is currently operating on a regular schedule and no decision has been made as of yet to close early today.

As the High Country sees the flakes falling today, keep in mind the worst is still to come according to several forecasts. Snowfall will likely continue to be scattered around much of the High Country, with more significant accumulations at the higher elevations. The gusty winds will persist throughout the day and into the evening. We are currently under both winter storm and high wind warnings, with winds from the force of Sandy forecast to produce up to 60 mph gusts.

Boone has currently only received a dusting, but some of the towns at higher elevations are already seeing significant accumulation. The Beech Mountain Police Department dispatch is currently reporting about one inch of snow on the ground and steady, gusty winds. They described the roads as “passable” but said drivers should exercise caution because there is some ice on the roads.

Sugar Mountain Resort has begun making snow in preparation for the ski season, and in regards to Sandy’s impact, their website is reporting two inches of natural snow have accumulated so far.

“Blizzard conditions, 8-14 inches of snow expected from Sandy,” states their web page.

So what does the High Country’s favorite weather center have to say about all this?

“Hurricane Sandy is shattering all late-October intensity records for the Mid-Atlantic,” states Ray’s Weather Center. “We are in uncharted territory with the forecast.”

Ray’s Weather is forecasting Boone to get right at five inches of snow. Banner Elk will be looking at eight-plus inches, with Newland expected to get around five to eight inches. Farther to the east, West Jefferson is expected to get two to five inches and Sparta may be looking at about one inch of accumulation. The real concern still should probably be the wind though.

“Take note of damaging winds coming,” states Ray’s Weather. “We’ll have hurricane force gusts across the region today and Tuesday (80+ at higher elevations).”

To view Ray’s Weather Center’s forecast accumulations map for the High Country, click here.

For more information about Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the area, stick with High Country Press as we continue to follow this developing story.