Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 05/ 4/2010

We grade our 2009-2010 Winter Outlook

By Matt Ross

* Linger clouds, lowering humidity: Full Forecast | NatCast *

As the area's biggest snow piles finally bite the dust, let's look back at this historic winter and grade our 2009-10 Winter Outlook released in early November.

As a reminder, we called for below average temperatures and significantly above average snowfall.

Keep reading for a more detailed evaluation of our temperature and snowfall projections. But first, vote in our poll...

Our temperature outlook ended up being a very good one. We predicted that overall temperatures for December - February would run 1 to 2 degrees below average and in fact we were 1.7 degrees below average.

We did OK on our temperature outlook for the individual months. Our prediction of an average December and a 1 degree below average January would have been better had we flipped them, but neither were a bad miss, with December running 1.6 degrees below average and January just 0.4 degrees above. Our prediction of a cold February of 3 degrees below average turned out nicely as we ended up 3.9 degrees below average. Overall I would give us a B+ on winter temperatures with the great overall call slightly mitigated by modest misses in December and January.

It snowed this winter. A lot. I don't think anyone could have foreseen or had the hubris to predict record-breaking snowfall in early November. However, we did OK with our seasonal outlook. As I am sure everyone is abundantly aware, all 3 airports set seasonal snowfall records. Almost all areas received 350%-450% of their average seasonal snowfall. It was an epic winter for snow lovers. After six winters in a row with below average snow, I do think we stuck our necks out with a prediction of 150%-175% of average seasonal snowfall. Of course, much more than that was realized.

But I think it would have been foolhardy to predict much more. I am going to give us a B on snowfall. We correctly called for the first above average snowfall season since 2002-03 and we were right in signaling the elevated chances for a big storm(s).

Overall, I would grade our outlook a B/B+, but lean towards the B+. We were correct in identifying the atmospheric signals that might lead to a cold, snowy winter, and they mostly behaved as predicted, especially the moderate El Nino event. Consequently, our numeric predictions did fairly well, especially our temperature call.

It is way too early to make educated guesses regarding next winter, but I will go ahead and guarantee that we will receive less snow than this past winter. If I am wrong I will be happy to eat crow, or in this case...snow.

Feel free to leave any comments about our winter outlook. Was it useful? What information would you like us to include next year? Are you interested in a summer outlook?

By Matt Ross  | May 4, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, Local Climate, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Unbelievable: Still snow at BWI...
Next: PM Update: Maybe a shower, then days of dry


Excellent winter outlook, gang. I'd be interested in seasonal outlooks for summer, fall and spring in addition to winter.

Posted by: bkriner | May 4, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Seems pretty harsh to grade yourself down for failing to predict the amount of snow we got. Only Accuweather would make such outrageous predictions. Good work.

Posted by: ah___ | May 4, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'd sure like to know the reasons why some graded the winter outlook, "F"

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | May 4, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the ratings......I gave you guys, overall, a B+ for the winter forecast.

The only real goof, of course, was the first 10 days of February. No one could have foreseen that very accurately back in November. The persistent Greenland block, combined with the very strong El Nino and the endless parade of southern storms, was were the number of low-pressure systems that stalled just north us (because of the block)and kept the tail-end of the storms over the area for days at a time.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | May 4, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Steve, it's easy why some people graded the outlook at "F"--there are folks such as ThinkSpring who desire the kind of BORING snowless winters we normally get around here.

When I heard "El Nino" mentioned last fall I was fearful of the kind of DISASTER we experienced back in 1997/98--no snow, but plenty of wind, rain & crud to take the place of our normal snowfalls. Evidently there must have been little or no Greenland blocking during '97/'98!

Maybe we can get an encore of this past winter during 2010/ might help if more volcanic ash emanates from Iceland as well as certain tropical locales this summer, fall & winter!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | May 4, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse


The question was not whether one did or did not like the winter weather, but weather the winter forecast was accurate. And, the CWG winter outlook should be judged on that!

It drives me crazy when I hear a broadcaster or any one else refer to a lousy forecast - or similar language - just because the forecast calls for lousy weather. If the weather turns out lousy, the weather forecast was right on, i.e., a great, not lousy forecast.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | May 4, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

It was a pretty darn good outlook.

Posted by: wecndo | May 4, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company