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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 09/23/2008

Local Forecaster Sees Cold, Snowy Winter

By Jason Samenow

A snowy scene at the Capitol, March 7, 2007. By Capital Weather Gang photographer Kevin Ambrose.

Now that summer is officially over, winter is no longer hopelessly in the future for cold weather fans and snow lovers. With the release of veteran forecaster Keith Allen's winter outlook, anticipation for the season will only build. Allen's outlook, the area's first for 2008-09, calls for 25" of snow at Reagan National Airport and 30" at Dulles, about 50% above average. The outlook was released yesterday.

Keep reading for more on Keith Allen's winter outlook. For weather in the short term, see our full forecast and NatCast.

Allen predicts snow will fall in all of the winter months. He thinks there will be snow on the ground Christmas Day and calls for 4"+ snowfalls in both January and February, with some more snow in March. In addition to the above-average snow, Allen's outlook projects temperatures slightly colder than average, with December and February the coldest months relative to normal.

Allen, best known locally for providing forecasts for Verizon at 202-936-1212, has been issuing winter outlooks for more than 20 years. In the past, he released his outlook on WMAL but now disseminates it primarily through the Internet. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of a record of all of his outlooks and how accurate they've been. His fans in online weather forums consider his outlooks legendary although he's been known to bust an outlook or two. Last winter, his outlook was as good as it gets (see it here). You can read more about Allen in this Washington Post article: Eyes on The Skies

For the time being, the Capital Weather Gang will refrain from commenting on Allen's predictions and will issue its own winter outlook in November.

By Jason Samenow  | September 23, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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Next: PM Update: Early Autumn at Its Best


Keith Allen? Are you sure that you want to be quoting anything that he says or putting this on your board?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Unofficially, i.e., personal opinion not that of CWG, I put about as much credence in this and all winter outlooks as I do in the Farmer's Almanac, woolly caterpillars, and the like!

As a snow lover, I'd like to believe it; but like so many winters in the METRO region, the only thing approaching certainty is the almost unbearable frustration following unrealistic optimism of big time snows. Better to be surprised than dissapointed (yeah, I know, easier said than done - if only I could shed my addiction to optimistic snow outlooks. Any suggestions? How about beginning a chapter of SLA - Snow Lovers Anonymous)

Posted by: Steve Tracton | September 23, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

At least this outlook looks a LOT better than the short-term forecast for that dance-wrecking coastal monster this Friday.

ENSO-neutral winters are generally the best ones for snow here in D.C. I don't think we've had a "La Nada" winter in years!

Posted by: El Bombo | September 23, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone comment on the projected weather for Columbus Day weekend? Or is it too far out? I have an outdoor event that I've planned...thanks!

Posted by: dcnative | September 23, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dc_clim | September 23, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It's always nice to have fantasies . . .

Posted by: Southside FFX | September 23, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Every year we see these nonsense predictions: that winter is going to be cold and snowy and summer is going to be hot. Duhh, that's why they're called winter and summer, right.

Posted by: Weather Genius | September 23, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Weather Genius-- You clearly don't understand what seasonal outlooks are about and have completely mischaracterized them. They indicate how the season's weather will compare to average. That is, will it be warmer or colder than a typical DC winter, and it will be more snowy or less snowy.

Winters here aren't always cold and snowy. For example, some winters we've had no snow, and other winter we've exceeded 4 feet of it. And summers aren't always hot. In some summers we've had over fifty 90 degree days, and in other summers less than 15.

Bottom line, there is considerable variability in the summer and winter months. Seasonal outlooks are designed to communicate where on a broad spectrum a given season may fall.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | September 23, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

dcnative-- Columbus Day is well beyond the time horizon of predictability. Check back a week before.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | September 23, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the research I've been looking into has us at closer to an average to slightly below average winter snowfall-wise. By "average" I mean the 1971-200 average of 15.2" at DCA. Personally, with the long-range ENSO and NAO model numbers, I see DCA at around 10-14". But what the hell do I know? He's a professional, and the only thing I'm professional at is loving snow :)

Posted by: hobbes9 | September 23, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh how cruel - you got me really excited there for a second, until I read the actual article. So this is based on just one guy posting stuff on the Internet. Oh well.

Posted by: cpw | September 23, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm not personally a very big fan of long range forecasts, but Keith Allen has a pretty good track record of recent.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 23, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Period | September 23, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

If DC forecasters call for snow, I make plans to go to the beach.

Posted by: Pfffffffffttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!! | September 23, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This is good news. There is certainly support for Keith's forecast - everything from ENSO stage (near neutral is better for snow) to statistics (the law of averages dictates we are "due" fairly soon - and indeed, it seems once every 4 to 5 years DC / the mid-atlantic has a big snow year). He also has a strong track record, and FWIW, has, I believe, accurately called the last two mild winters.

That being said, I never go in "expecting" above average snow. If we can even hit average this year though, it'll seem "snowy" in comparison to recent years. My hope is for average or above, and I think this year that is more doable than in recent years. Of course, in my mind, the NAO is the 5000lb gorilla that is still in serious question at this point.

Posted by: Jim in Blacksburg | September 23, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Winter forecasts in September, Christmas goods in Costco and Halloween decorations on my neighbor's house. I give up!

Posted by: Michael1945 | September 23, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"Weathermen" can barely get correct what today's weather WAS, let alone the future weather. I think anyone that ever hoped for school to be closed because of snow, learned long ago how in-accurate weather forecasting is.

Posted by: Bill Monroe | September 23, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

thanks kill joy bill ITS FUN TO HOPE EH?

Posted by: Period | September 23, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Saying it's been quite a while since we've had a below average temperature worldwide, that doesn't mean we can't get a lot of snow here but I doubt we have a below average winter. It really depends on the La Nina and if it holds through winter.

Posted by: DJ Monet | September 23, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

DJ Monet,

There is no La Nina. It is ENSO-neutral.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

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