Storm recap: Generally 2-5 inches, on high end of forecasts

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Thursday night’s snowstorm mostly overachieved throughout the region, putting down about 2-5 inches. Some areas east and northeast of town (towards the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore) and well west and northwest of town picked up 4-6 inches.

(Note: Reagan National officially received 1.9″, extending D.C.’s record long 2″ snow drought)


Snow total map generated by National Weather Service (note some totals are erroneous or dated)

Our final call snow forecast, issued at 3:35 p.m. Thursday, was for 1-3″ across the region, except 2-4″+ in our northeast suburbs. We indicated a 25 percent chance of a “boom scenario” of 3-5″ in the metro region and 4-8″ in areas to the northeast, which ultimately played out.


Capital Weather Gang snowfall forecast issued at 3:35 p.m. Thursday

This wasn’t our best forecast, but not our worst and probably not worth beating ourselves up over. It was a tough forecast as the storm was a fast developer and it was difficult to determine exactly where the heavier snow would start and stop. Models waffled quite a bit on precipitation amounts.

More or less, we accurately described the evolution of the storm and its impacts although snow began in our western areas and started accumulating several hours earlier than we expected in our forecast early Thursday morning. We corrected that in an update late Thursday morning, but some folks were caught offguard by the snow coming in so early.

Also, we probably overplayed the potential for a dry slot or “snow hole” over the region. This motivated us to lower forecasts totals slightly in parts of northern Virginia early Thursday and we then had to backtrack Thursday afternoon, when we realized that wasn’t playing out.

The possibility of a dry slot was real, and it did affect central and southern Virginia. But, in reality, the track of the upper level system (low pressure at around 18,000) was close to ideal for generating precipitation over our region. We recognized that, but probably didn’t factor that into our amounts enough.

Overall, I’d give ourselves a B or B- for this forecast… we got the big picture more or less right, but missed out on some details.

Let us know your thoughts and thanks for following our coverage…

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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