For most of the Washington area, the predicted snowquester was more rain than snow. (Marvin Joseph/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Chris Cillizza
Reporter March 8, 2013

Prognostication is a delicate business.

Whether it’s predicting the results of elections or the tracks of storms, there is a desire for certitude when, in fact, none exists. Slight shifts in any number of variables can change outcomes. Competitive pressures to be first, and right, make things more difficult.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House. View Archive

Once in a long while, all of these factors combine to form a perfect storm. That’s what happened this past week to Washington’s meteorological community.

At the start of the week, folks in the weather-forecasting business predicted that heavy snowfalls were headed toward D.C. (The Fix did our usual: stocked up on cans of evaporated milk for our bunker.) As the storm — it was called Saturn! — approached Tuesday night, many weathermen and -women amped up their snowfall predictions.

Then the rain came. Yes, the rain. The weather world was left to stand on snow-free streets wrapped in Gore-Tex winter gear as the rest of us wondered what the heck happened. Snowfall? More like snow drizzle — snizzle.

The Capital Weather Gang, The Washington Post’s meteorology blog, issued a well-explained mea culpa — it was too warm at the surface for snow — and Fox 5 meteorologist Tucker Barnes was shown on camera sitting in a corner, taking a “timeout” for his missed prediction. (Well played, sir.)

What this past week made clear is that weather forecasting, like election prognosticating, is at least equal parts art and science. And we all know art is in the eye of the beholder.

Washington meteorologists, for promising a snowquester and delivering a noquester, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@wpost.com.

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