“It could have been worse” is hardly a rallying cry, but that’s how I’d sum up this season snow-wise in our patrol zone. Early November started off strong, but then a horrific lull put us well below average until I flew up to Alaska in late December. As soon as I got on a plane to Alaska, it stopped snowing in Alaska and started snowing in our patrol zone. By early January, things were looking decent, but probably since I was back in town, things never got too exciting again until April. From early January to the end of March, the snowfalls while slow and steady, never seemed to stay up with our average snowfall and the season was consistently just a little below average. Somehow the weather gods missed the other times I was out of town — as none of those times were as stormy as when I was in Alaska.
At least we got some good late season snowfalls in April. However, we never got the huge upslope snow event we get so many times in March or April. Overall, compared to the average, our two best months this season were January and April, and our worst month was February.
Below is the Lake Eldora Snotel chart for the season, with the green line representing average, black line representing 2022, the purple line representing the best season, and the red line representing the worst season.
Well, it could have been worse. Let’s turn to my forecasts, and how the models did this season.
How Did the Models Do?
As I have in prior years, I’m always curious to see how each of the weather models performed for our patrol zone over this past season. Hopefully this can improve my forecasting for future seasons. In the past I’ve learned that the NAM, RDPS, and HRRR add little to my forecast, and traditionally the WRF has led the pack of the models with either the Canadian or American models nipping at its heels. But, as this season went on, I started getting the feeling that the WRF wasn’t doing so well, while (a certain model mentioned below) seemed to be the most reliable.
Let me start with my usual caveats that my comparison of how the models did is based upon some back of the envelope math (and math is hardly my strong suit). And that math is based upon my subjective retrospective discussions. So, take this with a large grain of salt.
Well the results are in. I got between 20-40 data points on five of the models – American, Canadian, European, UK Met, and WRF, so I’m only including those in this analysis. Unlike the last two years when the WRF Model was the most accurate snow forecasting model for our patrol zone, for some reason (perhaps known to those much smarter than me), the WRF Model fell on its face this past year. Well then, which model was the winner? It was an easy call. Drum roll please ….
The Canadian Model.
On the good side, the ratio of being dead-on accurate compared to my total references to the model in the forecasts was 23% for the Canadian Model, a bit higher than the WRF, and much higher than the other models. On the bad side, the WRF won the unenviably prizes of having the highest ratios of way underpredicting snow, somewhat underpredicting snow, and somewhat overpredicting snow, while the UK Met won the unenviable prize for the highest ratio of way overpredicting snow. Of course, these are just ratios, and so the last sentence left out the most ignominious storm over and under predictions of the year – and that sorry prize goes to the American Model. My favorite missed prediction was the American Model’s 62” prediction when 4” actually fell.
Looking at the overall numbers, the Canadian Model was by far the best model for predicting snow this season. I think the European Model came in second. Hard to say who was third or fourth (between American and UK Met Models), but sadly I think the WRF model came in last. It was just constantly off.
So, pull out a Molson or a Labatt beer, eh. Cook up some Canadian Bacon, eh. And, toast to the Canadians who did the best job building a model to predict snowfall in our patrol zone, eh. Kind of figures, doesn’t it, that a land of snow and ice would build the best weather model for this past season, eh?
Thanks everyone for reading these forecasts this season, eh. And, look forward to seeing you all at the patrol picnic and/or the Mt. Russel ski day, eh.
-Jordan (Monday (5/9/22))
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all forecasts are for 10,000’ in exposed areas. References to American Model are the American (GFS) Model. References to the Canadian Model are the Canadian (GDPS) Model. References to the WRF Model are the CAIC WRF Hi-Res Model. References to the European Model are the European (ECMWF) Model.