By Paul T. Choate
March 4, 2013. After getting spoiled in the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11, snowfall totals the past two winters have seemed rather uninspiring. But according to seasonal averages, the High Country is experiencing pretty much a standard winter so far and February was no different.
According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) for data from 1981-2010, Boone typically experiences 35.3 inches of snow per year with 9.4 inches on average falling in February. This February, according to Ray’s Weather Center (RWC), 11 inches of snow fell.
Over half of February’s snowfall in Boone occurred on Feb. 1-3, when 6.5 inches of snow hit the area. Another system on Feb. 16-17 brought an additional two inches. Other than those two instances, it was mainly spotty, scattered snow showers.
Banner Elk typically experiences similar snowfall to Boone — usually slightly more — and that has been no different this year. Annually, Banner Elk receives 38.7 inches of snowfall, with 12.4 inches on average falling in February, according to NCDC.
The winter weather has resulted in nearly identical numbers of school closings for Watauga County Schools (WCS) and Avery County Schools (ACS).
According Marshall Ashcraft, WCS public information director, school has been closed 13 days in total this year and six of those closings occurred during the month of February.
“For the year to date we’re pretty close to typical. The average based on 37 years is about 14.5 days,” Ashcraft said. “We will typically have a day or two in March that we will miss, so we’re pretty much on track for a typical season if we don’t we don’t get a major storm in March.”
According to Martha Davis, ACS public relations officer, Avery County Schools have been closed 14 days in total due to inclement winter weather. February had the most closings of any month so far this season, mirroring WCS at six days.
Despite a typical February, March will have to see quite a bit of snow to get the snow totals up to annual averages.
According to RWC, in total this year Boone has received 26.8 inches of snow — meaning it will need to snow 8.5 inches in March (and/or April) to get to the seasonal average. March typically sees about five inches of snow, with another 2.9 inches coming in April, so reaching the annual average or close to it could still be possible.
Temperatures in February were also right on historical averages. According to the NCDC, the mean temperature in February for Boone is 33.9 degrees an for Banner Elk is 33.1 degrees. Boone saw an average temperature of 33.2 degrees with Banner Elk slightly colder at 32.1 degrees.
March should start to bring some noticeably warmer weather, with mean temperatures in both Boone and Banner Elk around 40 degrees.
For your week ahead, the mercury will creep up to about 40 degrees today with some scattered clouds. Tomorrow will be warmer, with highs near 50, but rain and possibly a wintery mix will hit Tuesday night. Wednesday will be noticeably cooler, with the high not even getting above freezing and some snow showers likely. Thursday will be mostly sunny with a high near 40 degrees. Friday looks to be almost golfing weather with lots of sunshine and a high near 50 degrees.
For more information on High Country weather, visit raysweather.com.