BLOG: GRADING THE WINTER FORECAST

Meteorological Winter is in the books. How’d we do?

As you know, I track our forecast accuracy very closely and am up front and honest about our successes AND failures. So in that spirit, here’s a review of our winter forecast, which was released around Halloween. Here’s the LONG version of that forecast. 

A QUICK REVIEW OF THE WINTER STATS:

It was (duh) a WARM winter! Look at how the numbers shape up when compared to last year:

20152016

And we not alone. Much of the country had a warmer-than-average winter. Really the ONLY “cold” spot was in parts of the Southwest. Departures from average:

winteraom

This was the 7th warmest winter on record in Youngstown. 2011-2012 was actually slightly warmer.

warmest

We are not done with accumulating snow yet but here is where we stand on the list of least snowy seasons:

snow

We might drop a few slots on this list with a few inches of snow still possible over the coming days.

DECEMBER TEMPERATURE FORECAST GRADE:  B+

It was, EASILY, the warmest December on record in Youngstown. We did not predict that (that would have been really REALLY bold!). We DID predict that December would be quite mild and the warmest month vs. the averages of the winter season.

Initial forecast:

Dec2015

On December 1, we did update this to make the forecast warmer, bit obviously did not go far enough.

Actual departures from average:

decanom

We had the warmth (and cold) in the right places but just were not warm enough. Overall a good forecast though.

JANUARY TEMPERATURE FORECAST GRADE:  A

January forecast:

Jan2016

Overall we expected a month much closer to average locally.

Actual temperatures:

jananom

Pretty good! January ended up  being 0.4 degrees above average in Youngstown.

FEBRUARY TEMPERATURE FORECAST GRADE:  C

This was the month that did not pan out great in our initial forecast. Here was that forecast:

Feb2016

Expected February to be the coldest month (compared to average) of the winter. Also talked about it being the snowiest (which it was).

I would have given this a lower grade but we DID update the forecast late in January and did take it in the right direction (just not far enough)

February Forecast

February ended up 3.3 degrees above average locally.

febanom.png

SNOW FORECAST GRADE:  INCOMPLETE. (PRELIMINARY GRADE: A)

The snow forecast, rather than December-February, is “first flake to last flake”. We have not seen out last flakes yet (although we may be able to say that by the end of this weekend).

Here was the forecast:

Snow Forecast 2015-2016

These numbers are all below average. And this forecast was pretty much on the money (slightly too high). As of Tuesday morning the total at the airport is 31.2″.

OVERALL FORECAST GRADE:  A-/B+

The overall “ideas” of the forecast, that this winter would be MUCH different than the last 2 winters….were excellent. We did not catch the degree of the warmth in December and February. January’s forecast was good and I am happy with the snow forecast.

I don’t know what next winter will bring but it is safe to say it will NOT be as warm as this one! El Nino, the primary driver of this winter’s warm weather, is fading and next winter will likely feature the opposite….La Nina. Does that mean our weather will be the opposite of this year. Not at all.

We’ll have that forecast in about 8 months! Meanwhile, enjoy what should be a pretty nice Spring.

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