Although Ashe County has been covered in a blanket of snow this entire week, the latest winter storm system may foreshadow brighter and warmer days ahead as Joe Mullis removes the last bean in his jar, signifying the final snow of the season.
“I think this might be our last snow,” said Mullis.
Mullis, an Ashe County native, has adopted a time-honored method of forecasting winter weather. The system has been passed down through his family for generations and dates back to the region’s Native Americans.
Mullis wakes up early each morning in August, and visits a secret location to measure how thick the morning fog is using landmarks.
If Mullis notices a light fog, he adds one small bean into a jar, and if he notices a heavy fog, he places a big bean into his jar. If the morning is clear or raining, Mullis doesn’t place a bean into his jar.
At the beginning of September, Mullis counts the beans in his jar. For every big bean, Mullis predicts a storm that will result in over four inches of snow fall. For every small bean, he predicts a snowstorm that will leave the ground covered, but not exceed four inches.
Mullis has been removing big beans and small beans from his jar since in first snowfall this winter, and was left with only one big bean in his jar. That is, until this week’s snowstorm exceeded 4 inches.
At the beginning of winter, Mullis said his predictions average out to be 90 percent accurate. He also said he isn’t the only local keeping track of the snowfalls.
A local woman who adopted Mullis’ “bean method” has also been counting down to the end of the season, and she was also left with one big bean in her jar before this snowfall.
David Steel, a meteorologist from Boone, said he agreed with Mullis for the most part.
“The chances are good this is our last significant snow,” said Steel. However, Steel also said there is a good chance the high country could see more light snow showers, between one or two inches, in the first two weeks of April.
“While we are at the end of winter, I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying we definitely won’t see anymore snow,” said Steel.
Although, Mullis also doesn’t claim absolute certainty for his predictions either. Even though he is confident in his method and said he thinks winter is finally coming to and end, Mullis said nature is full of surprises.
“Whatever snow we get after this will be mother nature’s crick in the saw,” said Mullis on Monday. He also said people have been calling him for constant updates about his snow predictions, indicating several locals still place their trust in Mullis and his bean method.