Mild winter surprises even seasoned forecaster

WASHINGTON — Storm Team4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer admitted that, in several ways, winter has not turned out the way he expected.

But he stands by his predictions for February and March.

Kammerer’s Winter Weather Outlook, released in November, called for a colder-than-usual December and January.

Those months turned out to be very warm.

He also predicted 14 to 20 inches of snow to come down along the I-95 corridor, an average-to-slightly-above-average winter total.

“So far, we’re at 1.4 inches of snow at [Reagan National] Airport, and that’s actually on pace to be the third-least snowfall in a winter,” Kammerer said.

One of the big factors he banked his prediction on was a warm “blob” of water in the Pacific off the northwest coast of the U.S.

He expected it to push the jet stream up into Alaska, through Canada, and then bring cold air down to the U.S.

“It was the wild card, because if it shifted, all bets were off. And that’s exactly what happened,” Kammerer explained.

The warm “blob” turned into a cold “blob” by the end of November, directing the jet stream south into states like California, Oregon and Washington, which have seen massive amounts of rain and snow, as well as cold temperatures.

Kammerer’s prediction for this month was correct: “February was the one month I said would be extremely warm,” he said.

He is still predicting a change for next month.

“I am seeing a cooling trend right now for the first two weeks of March. I do think we may be around average or a little bit below average, and the average high temperature once we get into March is around 50 [or] 51. There may be a couple of colder time periods there.”

So far, there is no sign of snow in the forecast, but Kammerer reminds readers and listeners that winter is not over yet.

“March could be the month that we actually see some snowfall,” he said. “Now, it’s going to take a big storm in order to get it.”

He pointed out that 24 years ago, the region got slammed in mid-March.

“We had the Super Storm of ’93 that came through and brought us the blizzard conditions in parts of our western zones. We saw over 14 inches at Dulles. We saw six and a half inches at Reagan National Airport — a mixture of rain, sleet and snow with that storm.”

Kammerer called this year’s Winter Weather Outlook a “miss,” but said his overall track record is good, and that he will continue to do them.

How do other winter forecasts compare with reality?

The Farmers’ Almanac  called for near-record cold in the area in early February and a massive mid-February storm.

Oops.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also predicted February snow, but interestingly also called for sunny and warm temperatures Feb. 20-23.

Perhaps famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil needs an eye exam: Earlier this month, he saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter.

And Potomac Phil, D.C.’s dead, stuffed groundhog, also “predicted” six more weeks of winter, as well as six more months of political gridlock.

Maybe he got it half right.

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