*Contest entries are now closed* 

What is the outlook for snowfall in the next three months? You tell us! We provide a brief overview of the climatology, long-range model forecasts, and La Niña for the next three calendar months. We then ask for YOUR long-range forecast for snowfall in Boulder. Prizes include Amazon gift cards, BoulderCAST T-Shirts, and Premium subscriptions. Enter now!

Contest info

For this contest, you will be tasked with forecasting snowfall for the months of February, March, and April individually for Boulder. However, you will not be predicting exact snowfall amounts. Instead, since this is a longer-term forecasting contest, we have set-up categories that cover Near-Normal, Above Normal, Much Above Normal, Below Normal, and Much Below Normal snowfall. These categories were established (roughly) using the standard error in the last few decades of data. The breakdown of these categories are given below:

TOTAL SNOWFALL [Choose a category]

  • [CATEGORY – Much Above Normal] : More than 8″ above normal
  • [CATEGORY – Above Normal] : 4″ to 8″ above normal
  • [CATEGORY – Near-Normal] : +/- 4″ from normal
  • [CATEGORY – Below Normal] : 4 to 8″ below normal
  • [CATEGORY – Much Below Normal] : More than 8″ below normal

The baseline for your forecasts are the average snowfall amounts for each month in Boulder for the most recent 30 years (1988-2017). You will be choosing a category above in relation to the normal values below:

  • February Normal Value: 14.1″
  • March Normal Value: 17.1″
  • April Normal Value: 13.8″

BIGGEST SNOWSTORM [Predict an amount]

The fourth and final forecast element for this contest will be predicting Boulder’s biggest SINGLE-STORM snowfall total during the next three months (ending April 30). Keep in mind, under La Niña conditions, snowstorms greater than 10″ are very rare in Boulder.

For overall forecast verification, we’ll use the official Boulder climate station located at the NIST building in south Boulder.

RELATED POST:
La Niña Watch in effect for this winter

Scoring

Monthly snowfall total category forecasts: Five (5) points will be awarded for correctly forecasting the exact category for a month. Two (2) points will be awarded for forecasts in an adjacent category. All other monthly forecasts will receive zero points.

Biggest single-storm snow total forecast: Five (5) points will be awarded for predicting our biggest snow dumping to within 1.0″. Two (2) points will be awarded for forecasts within 3.0″ (but more than 1″).

Thus, the maximum possible score is 20 points for this contest.

Prizes

For prizes, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card, a T-Shirt, and BoulderCAST Premium subscriptions, dished out as follows:

  • Highest Point Scorer: $25 Amazon Gift Card, 6-month subscription to Premium and a BoulderCAST T-Shirt
  • Runner-Up: 6-month subscription to Premium
  • Anyone Who Scores 14+ Points: 3-month subscription to Premium
  • Anyone Who Scores 8-13 Points: 1-month subscription to Premium
  • Anyone Who Scores 7 or Less Points: Nothing. Nothing at all…

IMPORTANT:  In the event that multiple participants finish with the same point score overall, accuracy of the single-storm snow total will be the tie-breaker. Since there are limited scoring options, this tie-breaker is likely to come into play to determine winners, so think hard!

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Here are some thoughts on the forecast for the next three months:

CLIMATE FORECAST SYSTEM MODEL

The long-range guidance of the CFS climate model suggests that the Front Range will be….

  • Very warm in February, with potentially drier than normal conditions (northeast Colorado is on the fringe of dry)

  • Warmer than normal March, again slightly dry as well

  • April also leaning warm, with less clear-cut precipitation

CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER

The monthly outlooks released last week by the Climate Prediction Center follow along with the general patterns observed in the CFS forecast. They project elevated odds of warm and dry conditions across the Denver Metro area for the February through April time-frame. 

Feb-Mar-April combined outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center

COLD TROPICAL EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN

Another factor that will sure influence our region in the next three months is La Niña. The sea-surface temperature anomaly map below shows the cooler water along the eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Weak to borderline-moderate La Niña conditions are currently in-place.

Probabilistic ENSO forecasts project La Niña to linger into at least March, and possibly April, before we return to ENSO Neutral conditions.

With this in mind, these box-and-whisker diagrams below suggest temperatures near-normal and below normal precipitation for northeast Colorado (Climate Division #046) under La Niña conditions.

Box and whisker diagrams for northeast Colorado during the Feb-Mar-Apr time period under El Nino, La Nina, and ENSO Neutral conditions. (NOAA CPC)

Considering La Niña is currently in a very similar weakening state to this time last year, it may be worth nothing both February and March 2017 were EXTREMELY warm and dry for northern Colorado, with April 2017 landing near-normal in terms of both precipitation and temperature.

RELATED POST:
Severe drought relief is finally on the horizon

The final word:

It seems many factors are aligning to give us some confidence on how things will play out for the rest of winter and early spring. Blending everything we are seeing, our outlook for the next three months for Boulder is as follows:

  • February:
    • Below Normal Snowfall
  • March:
    • Below Normal Snowfall
  • April:
    • Near-Normal Snowfall

Our snowfall outlook lends to strong model indication for a warm next few months, in combination with hints that we’ll be dry as well. We all saw what happened last spring under similar conditions. Rain anyone?  Keep in mind…temperature isn’t everything. It only takes a few cold weather systems in a month to pile-up the snow in Boulder. For example, during our snowiest February ever in 2015….4 and 1/2 feet of snow fell in the month, but surprisingly temperatures were above normal for the month as a whole.

Good luck with your forecast! Enter below…. 


Enter your NAME, EMAIL, and 4 FORECASTS for the contest in the form below on or before February 3, 2018 (11:59 PM). 

Please only one entry per person. Prizes and recognition will be awarded in early May.

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LONG-RANGE FORECAST CONTEST ENTRY FORM

*Valid forecast inputs: Near-Normal, Above/Below Normal, and Much Above/Below Normal*

*Contest entries are now closed* 

*We respect your privacy. Your email will not be used for anything more than to contact you for prize distribution.*

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Help share this contest with your friends (or don’t if you want a better chance to win!):


SPECIAL PROMOTION: Use the offer code WEATHER-2018 on or before February 3rd to save 30% on a BoulderCAST Premium annual subscription.

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As a reminder, BoulderCAST Premium members get full-access to our daily forecast discussion every morning at ~5:00 AM. This is especially useful in the winter, when our meteorologists brain-dump thoughts for days leading up to impactful snowstorms. In case you weren’t with us the last few winters, we did quite well for the entire Denver Metro area’s snow forecasts (2015-16 Recap / 2016-17 Recap). Premium members also have admittance to the 24-hour version of our hourly forecast, access to all of our video forecasts, complete 6-day hiking and 6-day ski forecasts, have early viewing of select content, can request custom forecasts, and other added perks. Read our announcement post for more information.

Only $4.99 Per Month

 

  
 
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Ben Castellani

Ben grew up in western Pennsylvania and holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in meteorology. He currently works on a programming language tailored for scientists at Harris Geospatial Solutions in Boulder.

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