The Washington Post
Winter outlook was right on snow, flawed on temperatures
While we experienced some chillier-than-normal weather to close out April, any brief flirtations with winterlike chill are in the past. Thus, it is a good time to look back at our winter outlook.
We always grade our winter outlooks, even if the results aren’t pretty.
Taking a look at what we predicted in November, the results are mixed. It ended up being milder than we expected primarily because of a very warm December. Our snowfall forecast was more successful, as we were in the ballpark of our predicted ranges.
On temperatures, we not only make a seasonal forecast but also break down that forecast by month. Not all outlooks do this.
While we consider it important to get the overall temperature difference from normal right, the average monthly temperature is not just an afterthought; it is an integral part of our outlook.
We predicted that the overall winter temperature would end up close to average, and it finished 1.9 degrees above average.
Even though the winter was almost 2 degrees warmer than we forecast, it was still cooler than four out of the past 10 winters. Also, we correctly noted that temperatures would fluctuate substantially.
Our month-by-month predictions weren’t great, though a good February call salvaged what could have been a disaster:
We called for December to be one to two degrees below average, and it finished 5.9 degrees above average, second-warmest on record. Ouch.
We said January would finish around average, and it finished 2.9 degrees below average. Not as bad a call as December, but not good, either.
We predicted that February would finish two degrees above average, and it finished 2.6 degrees above average. This was a very solid prediction.
In summary, we give ourselves a C for the overall winter temperature prediction and a C-minus/ D-plus for the month-to-month predictions, for an overall temperature grade of C-minus.
Our snowfall prediction was good. We correctly forecast that snowfall amounts would be a bit below average. We were also correct that we’d see more snow than in the previous winter. Actual amounts at the three airports were just within or slightly exceeded our predicted ranges.
At Reagan National Airport, we called for 8 to 12 inches, and 13.2 inches fell (average is 13.7 inches).
At Dulles International Airport, we called for 12 to 16 inches, and 15.8 inches fell (average is 21.0 inches).
At Baltimore-washington International Marshall Airport, we called for 10 to 15 inches, and 14.4 inches fell (average is 19.3 inches).
We give ourselves a B-plus on our snow call.
Overall, our outlook was slightly better than mediocre. Our temperature outlook was subpar, while our snowfall outlook was quite good. As a whole, we grade our 2021-2022 winter outlook a B-minus/c-plus.
Up next: Our summer outlook comes out at the end of May.