By Nathan Ham
In their 16th year of issuing a fearless winter forecast, the staff at Ray’s Weather Center is predicting a slightly snowier winter season than average.
Each year, the winter forecast is compiled by founder Dr. Ray Russell and his staff, using both scientific studies and historical analysis. The forecast takes into account possible El Nino or La Nina conditions in the ocean and the historical snowfall totals that have happened during similar conditions.
The 2018-19 Fearless Forecast is predicting 15 percent high snow totals than the 10-year averages in the High Country as well as a greater than average potential for ice this winter. The forecast also predicts that temperatures will be between one and two degrees colder than average and that the bulk of the snowfall will happen during January and February.
Breaking it down by snowfall amounts in each town, Ray’s forecast is predicting 42 inches of snow in Boone. The forecast is also predicting big winters on Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain with both areas receiving 100 inches of snow. Other locations included in the forecast were Asheville (16 inches), Banner Elk (50 inches), Galax, Va. (24 inches), Hendersonville (11 inches), Hickory (6 inches), Independence, Va. (23 inches), Lenoir (7 inches), Morganton (7 inches), Mount Airy (12 inches), Old Fort (8 inches), Sparta (23 inches), Spruce Pine (24 inches), Waynesville (17 inches), Wilkesboro (9 inches) and Wytheville, Va. (25 inches).
Looking back at the 2017-18 winter forecast, Ray’s snowfall predictions were within five inches of the actual totals for 12 of the 19 locations. The closest two predictions were for Waynesville, (predicted 14 inches, actual snowfall was 13 inches) and Banner Elk (predicted 40 inches, actual snowfall was 42 inches).
A complete breakdown of the 2018-19 winter forecast can be found below.