Snowcast 2012: Final Update

With our first big upper-level ridge overhead with plans on sticking around for a few days as longer waves in the atmosphere have a habit of doing, it is time to close our snowfall forecast challenge for the winter of 2011/2012.

It has snowed in the past at both of our forecast cities of Moscow and Boise, after April 21st.  I’m pretty sure that if I talk to enough people someone will try to convince me that it once snowed in mid-August in Moscow and then promptly try to sell me dehydrated water. The statistics, however, suggest that Moscow and Boise average 0.1″ of snow in May, and with 70s, 80s and maybe a few places pushing 90 the next few days we officially call for an end to our snow season. Twenty people participated this year, with our ensemble or group mean forecast likely inflated due to last year’s well above normal snowpack and promise of a repeat of La Nina.

The final scores were tallied by averaging the forecast error for Moscow and Boise.  As of 21 April, Moscow reported 53.9″ for the year (or 8 inches above 1981-2010 normals) and Boise a rather anemic 8.6″ (10 inches less than 1981-2010 normals). I decided to not normalize forecast errors given that the forecast for Boise is more challenging due to it’s lower overall total snowfall #’s where a few events typically make or break the forecast. Unlike last year where we had phenomenal forecast skill collectively,  the bulk of our forecasts this year were overdone.  The top five (of 20) forecasts had mean errors within 2 inches of one another and highlighted those who forecasted # closer to “normal” : (1) Michael Jennings, (2) Climatology, (3) h20guy, (4) John A., (5) Travis Cowles.  Congrats to Michael on being the 2nd annual INW snowfall forecast challenge winner.

For those playing along at home, Farmer’s Almanac, in the vaguest weather/climate/mystery meat forecasts known to mankind, produced a seasonal forecast for Nov 2011-Oct 2012 for the interior western US as follows:

There has been talk of doing a summer analog of our snowfall forecast challenge with wildfire and guessing the amount of area burned in the state of Idaho.  While I would be interested in such forecasts, the whole idea with having a forecast poll involving fire is a bit morbid and then there is the fear of a court case involving arson and friendly competition.  A colleague of mine suggested that instead we have a soil moisture forecast…