The dearth of snow was especially shocking considering that not a single winter outlook among the 11 we reviewed called for it, Capital Weather Gang included. Most winter outlooks actually predicted above-normal snowfall.
But a few Capital Weather Gang readers came close to predicting the virtually snowless winter, and they deserve some credit and recognition. The pros, not so much.
Congratulations to Eric Simms, who predicted that just 0.5 inches of snow would fall during the winter at National — just a tenth of an inch off the actual amount. His forecast was the closest among more than 750 readers who participated in our winter snow prediction contest.
Four other readers, who also predicted less than an inch, deserve honorable mention:
Remarkably, of the 750-plus reader forecasts entered, only 2 percent called for less than five inches of snow. Most participants predicted slightly above-normal amounts in the range of 15 to 25 inches, although a substantial number also predicted slightly below-normal totals of between five and 15 inches.
The average reader snowfall prediction was 18.8 inches, about a foot and a half too high.
Capital Weather Gang predictions
This week, we evaluated our own winter outlook, which called for a slightly below-normal snowfall total of eight to 14 inches. We gave ourselves a grade of C. Although we predicted about 10 inches more than what actually fell, our forecast was on the correct side of average and the least inaccurate among the 10 other professional outlooks we reviewed (see below).
Individual forecasts from 24 Capital Weather Gang contributors, gathered for fun, were all too high, with an average prediction of 15.6 inches. Phil Klotzbach, an adviser on tropical weather, had the best forecast among Capital Weather Gang contributors: 9.3 inches, still a ways off.
TV station predictions
For the second straight year, ABC7 had the best outlook among D.C.-area television affiliates. It predicted 7 to 17 inches of snow (near to slightly below average). WUSA9 closely followed with its call of 10 to 20 inches (near average).
FOX5 and NBC4 had the worst snow outlooks, calling for somewhat above average amounts of 15 to 25 and 18 to 25 inches, respectively.
Predictions from forecast companies
We gathered forecasts from six private companies, and they all substantially overshot the actual snowfall, predicting above-normal amounts. Here is how they rank, from best to worst (the first three and last three are essentially tied):
- Judah Cohen, Atmospheric and Environmental Research: 17 inches
- Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather: 15 to 20 inches
- WeatherBell Analytics: 19 inches
- Paul Dorian, Perspecta Weather: 20 inches
- Matt Rogers, Commodity Weather Group: 20 inches
- Dave Tolleris, WxRisk: 15 to 25 inches
The lack of success of all of these forecasts is further proof that predicting seasonal snowfall is really hard. Maybe forecasters can improve on this poor showing next winter.
Past reader winners
Below, find winners of past Capital Weather Gang snowfall forecasts: