During the 2011-12 snow season, the Twin Cities picked up 22.3 inches of snow, which was the ninth least snowiest season ever.
Many prognosticators were expecting much more snow during this La Niña period. AccuWeather, a national private weather service, made perhaps the boldest and strongest statement when it issued it’s 2011-12 winter forecast in October 2011.
The Midwest was expected to be hit hard by Old Man Winter that season, according to this weather service. AccuWeather’s long-range meteorologist, Josh Nagelberg, declared, "People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter."
When it was all said and done, AccuWeather missed the forecast by nearly three feet of snow, and not too many Midwesterners were overly anxious to leave town.
It was anything but cold for the Twin Cities. We experienced the fourth warmest winter on record. The 30-year average (or normal) for snowfall in the Twin Cities is 54 inches.
Farmers’ Almanac did not fare much better when it came to last season’s snowfall prediction with a similar forecast as AccuWeather.
Unfortunately, Dahl was off by more than four feet of snow.
A local statistician, Rigil Kent, for the The Minnesota Forecaster attempted a more data-driven, historical approach to snow forecasting. He determined that 62.1 inches of snow would fall. The winter didn’t play by the rule of probabilities.
The most accurate snow prediction I could find last season is attributed to the owner, and weather enthusiast of The Minnesota Forecaster, Bill Stein. His prediction involved the amount of shedding by his dog, of all things. His 43.1 inches call was closest to 22.3 inches of actual snow, but more than 20 inches off the mark.
The private sector did not fare all that well with winter outlooks, so how did NOAA do? Not much better. Their revised 2011-12 forecast issued in December 2011 called for above normal precipitation for much of the northern tier of the continuous United States.
What does this all mean? Winter forecasting should be taken with a grain of salt. It is nothing more than just a guess. Weather often doesn’t play by a regular set of rules, whether it’s an El Niño, La Niña, or neutral year. Weather patterns can disrupt these seasonal influences. In addition, predictions from local members of the media are not any better than national ones.
Willing to take a shot on how much snow will the Twin Cities see in 2012-13? Post your guess below!