For a second winter in a row, snowfall in Washington underperformed. Just 5.4 inches fell, about 10 inches below average. It’s the fourth winter out of the last five with a snowfall amount substantially lower than average.
But unlike the winter of 2019-2020, when only 0.6 inches fell and most predictions called for above-average totals, quite a few people predicted that this past winter’s snowfall would be meager.
The consensus among forecasters was for slightly lower-than-average snowfall this winter, or around 10 inches, although the actual totals were substantially below the norm.
Several Capital Weather Gang readers who participated in our contest to predict how much snow would fall this winter actually nailed the seasonal total in their outlooks, and a couple of TV stations were within range, as well.
Out of more than 750 participants who entered our snowfall prediction contest, six were on the money, calling for 5.4 inches. Congratulations to:
- Keith Ernst
- Anne Kubelik
- Doug MacIntyre
- Heather Pierce
- David Sanders
- Margie Yeager
An additional 19 participants were within 0.5 inches of being correct, forecasting between 5 and 5.8 inches. About 60 people were within an inch of being right.
While the average reader prediction was 11.9 inches, 6.5 inches too high, it was correct in leaning toward less-than-average snowfall.
Capital Weather Gang predictions
In the Capital Weather Gang’s winter outlook, released in November, we predicted 10 to 14 inches, which was about twice as much as actually fell. We’ll post a detailed review of this outlook in the next couple of weeks.
For bragging rights, I queried 23 contributors to the Capital Weather Gang for their individual forecasts before winter, which produced an average of 10.8 inches. Contributors Dan Stillman and John Hopewell had the best forecasts, each predicting 6 inches.
TV station predictions
FOX5 was farthest off, forecasting 7 to 17 inches.
Predictions from private forecast companies
Before winter, we interviewed seven meteorologists representing private forecasting companies. Of them, five were in the ballpark, calling for 7 to 10 inches, just a few inches more than actually fell: Joe Bastardi (WeatherBell), Judah Cohen (Atmospheric and Environmental Research), Todd Crawford (the Weather Co.), Paul Pastelok (AccuWeather) and Matt Rogers (Commodity Weather Group).
Two forecasters, Paul Dorian (Perspecta Weather) and Dave Tolleris (WxRisk.com), had big misses, forecasting 20 to 22 inches.
D.C.'s seasonal snowfall ranked toward the bottom of a list compiled by the National Weather Service. Several locations to our south even saw more snow, including Salisbury, Richmond, and Asheville.
The low snowfall this past winter fits into a long-term trend toward declining amounts. While the 1981 to 2010 average was 15.4 inches, the most recent 30-year average from 1991 to 2020 has fallen to 13.8 inches.
Past reader winners
Below, find winners of past Capital Weather Gang snowfall forecast contests: