Scorecard on weather predictions



No matter that several northern and eastern states were pelted by snow and sleet early in March, as far as longterm weather forecasters are concerned, winter ended on February 28. Now is the time to review their winter seasonal forecasts to determine how accurate were those predictions issued at the start of winter.

The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted on November 27, 1981, that the winter season would bring colder-than-normal temperatures to the eastern half of the United States, while temperatures were expected to be higher than normal in the westernmost section (see Figure 1). The NWS made no prediction for the middle of the country, labeling the area ‘indeterminate,’ or having the same chance of experiencing above-normal temperatures as below-normal temperatures, explained Donald L. Gilman, chief of the NWS long-range forecasting group.