Hey, everyone. We had a blast answering your questions! For more on our winter weather forecast, go here, and download our NBC4 app or Telemundo 44 app to get weather alerts. Thanks so much for joining us! - Doug, Amelia and Joseph.

Hey, Reddit! We're NBC4 and Telemundo 44 meteorologists Doug Kammerer, Amelia Draper and Joseph Martinez. Every year we produce a long-range winter forecast for the D.C. region, and this year, almost all of the signs point to something we haven't seen much of: a colder-than-normal winter. To produce this forecast, we pore over historical records and crunch all kinds of data — both local and global — looking for signs of how the winter will unfold in our area and all along the Northeast. Our research includes the influence of the snow cover over Siberia in October, the warm blob in the Pacific, the solar cycle and how it may affect our atmosphere. Want to know how cold it'll be or how much snow you can expect? Ask us anything!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/7gz5a6pzog141.jpg

Comments: 262 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

misstibbs103 karma

How far back do we have historical weather records and how exactly do they help in your predictions if they're so old?

NBCWashington100 karma

We have temperature and rain/snow records that go all the way back to the late 1880s in the DC area. This is very helpful to see what has happened in past years in our region. One of the biggest factors that we use in our Winter Forecast is the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. ENSO looks into the temperatures of the water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. That data only goes back to the 1950s, so our subset of data is somewhat limited with that. - Doug

ChiliDogMe5 karma

What phase of ENSO are we in now?

NBCWashington11 karma

Currently, neutral.

trackiechica47 karma

Hello! Thank you all for your hard work. First, Doug I have to thank you for selflessly eating wings during the playoffs!

Now to my question - heavy snow seems to have shifted to later in the winter in the last few years (in the DC area). Is this a trend that you're noticing/will it continue? And what is causing it?

NBCWashington21 karma

Hey there and thanks for the question! Also, I loved my wings and LOVED the World Series victory. As for snowfall in our area, January and February have always been the snowiest months and continue to be. We do not average much snow at all for the month of December. That being said, we have been seeing a few more storms in the month of March and I am expecting that again this season as well. Is this a trend or just something we have seen more of lately, we will see. Thanks again for your question and thanks for watching. - Doug

GotMoFans45 karma

I’m guessing much of your data comes from the National Weather Service. Do you feel that data should have a filter through media and weather companies or should the data from the Federal agency be available directly to the public?

flyLTA43 karma

Weather forecasts form the NOAA are available to the public at weather.gov . Definitely my go-to weather site. Another great resource if you want way more information (read: too much info without a meteorology degree) is from the College of DuPage https://weather.cod.edu/forecast/

NBCWashington42 karma

Watches, warnings and advisories … weather alerts are all issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). So a tornado warning, severe thunderstorm watch, winter weather advisory, high wind watch will always be issued by the NWS. As media, it is our job to communicate what the alert means, what area it covers, essentially what you can expect.

As far as making our forecast, we look at many different computer models. A few of these models are also run by the NWS. We also look at models produced by Canada, Europe, private companies, etc. All weather alerts are directly available to the public, our local link in Washington is https://www.weather.gov/lwx/. Here you’ll not only see any alerts but see the government forecast as well (we, as media, create our own forecasts which are typically very similar). Most computer models are also available to the public. Check out the Penn State e-wall: http://mp1.met.psu.edu/~fxg1/ewall.html. The European model is a major model that is not available to the public unless you pay a fee to subscribe to the information.

I think everyone should have access to the government data, which they do. The problem is when non-professionals try to make their own forecasts based on this data, creating hype and misinformation - Amelia

plzhelpIDthisbug22 karma

Hey there team, you help guide our area every year through a busy winter season!

My question is this: How quickly has technology advanced over the past decade to help us predict winter weather events far enough in advance so preparations can be made? For example, do we have a better way to predict major winter weather events now than when we had Snowmaggedon 10 years ago?

Also Doug: my wife is a HUGE fan...maybe too much so. If you answer this, she’ll flip!

NBCWashington22 karma

Hey there and hello to you and your wife! Thanks so much for writing in and for watching.

Technology is advancing very quickly. We are sending up new satellites all the time which help us to produce a much better picture of the weather around the globe. Those satellites also help to provide key information to our weather models which are also constantly improving. When I started in this business 20 years ago, we were only doing 5 day forecasts. About 15 years ago we went to the 7 day forecast and now we are able to put together a 10 day forecast with reasonable confidence. Some systems, like the bigger storms we get are a little easier to forecast days out, but we still have issues with those marginal storms in regards to temperatures and precip type. That’s still the toughest part for us.

Thanks again,

Doug

JohnnyRyde20 karma

Doug, is Strasburg going to re-sign with the Nats?

NBCWashington25 karma

Ha, I love it! My forecast is 70 chance chance he re-signs! Let’s GO NATS! - Doug

Edit: Re-sign

Mydogdexter116 karma

What signs are indicating a colder winter?

NBCWashington10 karma

Hey there, we explain that in our winter weather forecast.

BurritoMedici14 karma

Hello! I’m a meteorologist in the military and it’s always interesting to see how more long term forecasts are done compared to the usual 2-5 day forecast we do. We get a crash course 9 month schooling on forecasting and observing, condensing essentially two years of basic meteorology college courses into the time frame. We don’t learn long range techniques beyond chart progression, so my question is mostly about the techniques you use.

How has long range forecasting developed over the years that you’ve been working in the field, and do you think there will be a time when computer models will be 100% accurate months in advance? Even in the last few years of working as a forecaster I’ve seen much more increased accuracy in models compared to when I started.

NBCWashington12 karma

This is part of an answer I gave for another question earlier about Ensembles. Ensembles are a great tool to help forecast weather days in advance and up to the 10 days that we forecast for. One of the other ways we do it is to track patterns and trends around our region. Working in the same area for long enough of a time you start to see which models work better in what situations and you use this experience in long range forecasting. - Doug

Life12345614 karma

Are you predicting a snowier than average winter in the north east? And from a probability standpoint, what are the chances the reality of this winter can be the opposite of the forecast?

NBCWashington12 karma

Yes, we are predicting a snowier than average winter across the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. While I am not predicting a blizzard for our area in D.C., I do think we could see a few in the Northeast this year and we just saw a huge storm over the last few days there. What are the chances this could be the opposite? It could happen. Back in 2017, I predicted above-average snowfall based on the data that I had in late October. By early December, a few of those pieces of data changed in a big way and we ended up with much less snowfall than predicted. Most years we do pretty well, though. - Doug

Bjornsnik8 karma

Hey guys. Do you think you can produce and predict these kinds of forecast in the upcoming decades aswell, with global warming knocking at our doorsteps? I’ve read that global warming causes more and more unpredictable weather. Thanks!

NBCWashington11 karma

Hey there and thanks for your question. Global warming is definitely having an effect on our weather, although the storms are not harder to predict. Yes we are seeing stronger storms in many parts of the world and this will only continue as the Earth continues to warm, but forecasting continues to evolve and get better as well. - Doug

MangaMaven8 karma

(aside from yourself and friends) Who is your favorite meteorologist?

Do meteorologists develope cult followings in the DC area the way they do in the Midwest?

NBCWashington12 karma

Growing up around here I would watch all of the meteorologists or weather people in this area, especially when a snow storm was moving in. I would watch Sue Palka, Doug Hill, Topper Shutt and of course Bob Ryan. Bob was always my favorite and it was an honor for me to get this job here at WRC after he left! Great question. - Doug

DMVwx7 karma

First off, thanks for all of your hard work! I know a Falls Church City native who is obsessed with y'all and severe weather events! She’s also an elementary school teacher in Arlington County and loves that she can share her passion for weather with her students. They just started their weather unit and it’d be a dream come true if any of y’all were available to speak to her class before winter break?

NBCWashington7 karma

Hey there and thanks for the question. Unfortunately, we are all booked through the rest of the year and for most of next year. I do have a few dates available in April, however. Please email me or have her email me. You can find my information on nbcwashington.com. Thank you. - Doug

giscard786 karma

How does Storm Team4 feel about the Capital Weather Gang?

NBCWashington6 karma

I love the way they break things down and their research with interesting climatological data. It's great to have amazing content in our local area! As a person who was not familiar with local topics before moving here two years ago, I learned a lot from their posts, specially during the Cherry Blossom season! - Joseph

NBCWashington5 karma

We love those guys and we are very supportive of each other. - Doug

monkeyuprising6 karma

Amelia,

Last winter you did a live segment from Whitetail that concluded with you shredding down the mountain. Your camera guy wasn’t up to the task and missed a lot of the gnar gnar destruction that surely took place. Can we please have a redo?

I will gladly film via my own alternate camera in case things break bad again.

Thanks!

NBCWashington13 karma

I would love to head up to Whitetail again! That segment was a blast. My first job was a snowboard instructor up at Whitetail when I was a teenager. So, even if I’m not on TV, I will still be heading up to go snowboarding there (with my mom who also snowboards) this year. - Amelia

andyb9915 karma

Hello!

Has there been a cooling trend on the winters in the DMV over say the last decade?

NBCWashington7 karma

According to Climate Central, our winters have warmed 2.3ºF since 1970 . While we have variability from winter to winter the overall trend is warming.

According to the National Weather Service our average winter temperature is 38.2 Here’s a look at some more recent winters:

  • 2007 – 2008: 40.9
  • 2008 – 2009: 37.3
  • 2009 – 2010: 35.8
  • 2010 – 2011: 36.7
  • 2011 – 2012: 43.4
  • 2012 – 2013: 41.4
  • 2013 – 2014: 37.4
  • 2014 – 2015: 36.5
  • 2015 – 2016: 42.0
  • 2016 – 2017: 43.9
  • 2017 – 2018: 40.9
  • 2018 – 2019: 39.5

  • Amelia

Glsbnewt5 karma

How well did your prior predictions match what actually happened? How do you assess forecast accuracy for your long-range predictions?

NBCWashington7 karma

Every day we fill out a sheet with our forecast for the upcoming days, and we go back to previous days to evaluate how our forecast compared to what really happened. That helps us evaluate if we predicted cooler or warmer temperatures compared to what happened. We are also evaluated by an independent company called WeatheRate, in which they compare our forecast to the observations to see how close we were.

For long-range predictions we look at past data, but instead of forecasting a specific number for a temperature or snowfall amounts, we predict a range since that would be more reasonable for a long-term forecast. - Joseph

bttrflyr5 karma

I understand that long term weather forecasting is rather difficult given the infinite number of miniscule variables that can influence the development of any given weather system. How do you intend on accounting for this Butterfly Effect and thus how specific do you hope your forecast to be?

NBCWashington9 karma

That is a great question and while we cannot account for an infinite number of possibilities, we're able to account for a number of them. For instance, the American Model is run 20 times and the European is run over 50 times taking into account the most probable solutions. One way we help to figure this out is by averaging these Ensembles to help create a forecast. Ensembles are gaining more and more traction within the weather community for this exact reason and they are a great tool for us to use. Thanks! -Doug.

DLVSH5 karma

Are the meteorologists required to be more experienced for some cities/areas with “difficult” weather? For example, the DFW area versus the San Francisco Bay Area?

NBCWashington6 karma

Certified meteorologists have knowledge in all the weather and non-weather topics that affect the United States: winter weather, severe weather, fire weather, winds and even fires. Even though the San Francisco Bay Area doesn't have to deal with a lot of severe weather, meteorologists do have to deal with microclimates in that area, because temperatures and weather patterns change a lot in smaller distances compared to the DFW area. They have to deal with fog, fires and earthquakes. If a meteorologist spends more time working in a particular area, that tends to make them more experienced in those regional or local topics. - Joseph

Mydogdexter14 karma

Why do weather model's not learn from current data?

NBCWashington5 karma

Most of the weather models do learn from current data, which is called the initialization process. During this process, a computer model takes into account temperature observations from meteorological stations, satellite, aircraft and ship data to assimilate the current conditions and to have a better understanding of the current state of the atmosphere in order to try to predict with more accuracy what could happen in the future. The difference is that some models update hourly, other update every 6 or 12 hours, so it depends on how quickly they update and assimilate the current state of the atmosphere.

Some other computer models are also adjusted if they performed poorly in situations by comparing their forecast to what happened, so it can be corrected for future occasions. - Joseph

EdsteveTheGreater3 karma

I recently moved to the West Virginia Eastern Panhandle, which I think means the edge of your regular viewing area. Are your forecasts likely to be accurate for me, or should I be looking at other resources? Do I need to be worried about things like nor'easters? What can I expect to be different about the weather from where I grew up in west central Ohio?

Thanks from a new viewer!

NBCWashington4 karma

Hello there and welcome to the area! Yes, we forecast for your area too and try to mention you guys on a daily basis. Yes, you need to worry about some Nor'easters! Those storms are responsible for some of our biggest snows! We do not tend to get as cold as Ohio. The mountains to our west block a lot of that extreme cold. You will most likely not get as much severe weather although we still get severe storms in this area. Again, welcome. Also for more direct information you can always ask me anything on Facebook. Thank you. - Doug

kayonesoft3 karma

It seems like most climate-change opponents use local weather as a metric for their arguments. IE "it's snowing right now so where's that global warming we were promised?" or "I've seen worse before."

As someone who has seen first hand how local weather is affected, what sorts of compelling counter-arguements would you recommend to help educate people?

NBCWashington7 karma

It seems like most climate-change opponents use local weather as a metric for their arguments. IE "it's snowing right now so where's that global warming we were promised?" or "I've seen worse before."

As someone who has seen firsthand how local weather is affected, what sorts of compelling counter-arguments would you recommend to help educate people? Kayonesoft, The New York Times just had a fantastic newsletter of resources to arm yourself against these types of statements

Web-sites and fact sheets: Skeptical Science / NASA: Climate Change: How Do We Know? / Climate Reality Project

Podcasts: United States of Anxiety: The Birth of Climate Denial / TILclimate Podcast / The Ezra Klein Show: The Climate Crisis Is An Ocean Crisis

Videos: Why Climate Change Is Anti-Justice

  • Amelia

NBCWashington5 karma

There is a website that has a lot of Climate Change myths compared to a scientific fact that answers that myth. Here is the website. - Joseph

vass09223 karma

Has your team ever met in a back alley/parking lot against numerous other weather teams armed with random weapons?

NBCWashington6 karma

This happens more than you think! LOL, great question. I love Lamp! - Doug

Kogie133 karma

I’m a college student in DC area and I enjoy seeing you guys do the local weather each time I watch NBC. I have a passion for weather but I’m not sure how to get into doing stuff weather/meteorology related in college. My question is how did you guys get into meteorology and how did it lead you to your current jobs on TV today?

NBCWashington4 karma

That is fantastic that you have a passion for weather. That is the first thing you need to move forward. The second would be to find a college where you can study your passion. In our area the University of Maryland would be a great place for this. I would also recommend emailing us any questions you may have in the future. You can find my email online. Good luck to you and follow that passion! - Doug

NBCWashington3 karma

I got interested in meteorology when I was 7 years old and hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico, back in 1998. That hurricane destroyed my school, we were without power and a lot of houses were damaged. I got interested in tracking the tropical storms during every hurricane season. I also grew up watching the news with my parents every day, and weather was my favorite part of it. I got more inspired when a TV meteorologist visited my middle school, and then I stared to go to the malls and activities that local TV stations did during hurricane season. I even made my grandmother and aunt take me to the hurricane hunters' visit to Puerto Rico one time! Since I enjoyed math and science at school and I always had that passion, I knew that I wanted to study meteorology so I went for it. Luckily, in my last semester of college the university opened a new internship program with a local public TV station in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in which I got to see myself for the first time in front of a camera and I was able to record a demo. That was the key to getting the job that I have today as on-air meteorologist. - Joseph

20SillyCats3 karma

What kind of students were you guys back during your schooling years (e.g. high school and the university)? Do you miss those times?

Do you still feel nervous during presentations?

Thank you for answering the questions!

NBCWashington3 karma

I was a pretty good student back in the day. I was always the most organized and I definitely procrastinated on many of my projects, but overall I was a good student. It’s easier to be a good student when you are studying for something you love! Do I miss college? Absolutely, that was so much fun. I would love to go back for a week or two to enjoy that again! HA HA! Do I still get nervous during presentations? Not really anymore. I have done this for so long it’s like second nature to me. Thanks so much for your question. - Doug

NBCWashington2 karma

: I also loved math and science like Amelia. My favorite topics in the science class were always talking about the planets and space. I was that nerdy student at school, since I graduated high school with 4.0 and college with about a 3.9. I did not like to do oral presentations at school, but I have gotten more confident with time and now I enjoy going to schools and talking to students! - Joseph

NBCWashington2 karma

Loved, and still love, math, science and problem solving. I graduated high school with over a 4.0 GPA and graduated college a semester early to get a jump start in the workforce. I do miss those times, especially that semester of college my senior year, but I wouldn’t go back. I love working in Washington, D.C., my hometown area. As far as presentations, if they relate to weather or climate I don’t get nervous. That’s what I talk about almost every day of the week on TV! - Amelia

beaulee153 karma

What is your response to the people who say that weathermen are always wrong, never right, they don’t know what is happening, etc.?

NBCWashington7 karma

We see that a lot, but I would say that you can always compare our forecast to the National Weather Service's data records so you can evaluate and analyze how off the mark we are. Certainly there are some days when it's tough to forecast, because weather forecasting takes into account a lot of variables like temperatures at the surface, temperatures aloft, wind speed, wind direction, pressure, etc. Any variation in one of those could change a forecast completely, like when we have all the ingredients for the potential of severe weather and a temperature inversion in the atmosphere prevents the storm from developing. As technology and science evolve by studying weather phenomena, we have become more confident in forecasting up to 10 days from now. Our atmosphere is complex. To understand what is happening we analyze radar, satellite, atmospheric soundings and a lot of data sources. - Joseph

suzukichic013 karma

The consensus among meteorologists and scientists is that the European model is far more superior than the American model for forecasting storms, fronts, etc. The reason their models are more superior is that they require much more computing power. Is the reason the American models are falling behind is the fact that our administration is full of climate change deniers and funding is an issue for science departments?

edit: Funding science has never been a strong suit of any administration.

NBCWashington4 karma

I like your edit and that pretty much says it all. We are definitely lacking in the funding we need for the computer power we would like to have. The Europeans far outspend us and were outspending us more than 2 to 1 for a long time, although don’t quote me on those specifics. Remember Hurricane Sandy? The Euro did a great job with that storm while the American model continued to say it would go out to sea. After the devastation it left behind, millions of dollars were sent to help improve our models at home, however the European model continues to be the gold standard. Thanks. - Doug

wolfin19913 karma

What is the warm blob?

NBCWashington6 karma

Simply put the warm blob is a marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Alaska to Hawaii at times. In 2014-2015 it was incredibly destructive with massive coral bleaching in Hawaii, the largest harmful algal bloom ever recorded on the west coast which impacted crabbing and clamming, lead to low salmon numbers among various other fishery disasters. Scientists still need to study the blob to better understand the phenomenon but it is something to be expected more in a warming world. In fact, this year the intensity of the blob is back, rivaling 2014-2015 levels with coral bleaching already being reported again in Hawaii. - Amelia

aggiebuff3 karma

Do you use GOES data? What do you think about the new 16 and 17 satellites if you do?

NBCWashington6 karma

Hello! Yes, we use GOES 16 and 17 satellite images (East and West). These are great resources for us, because they have better spatial and time resolution. This means that we can see what is happening more frequently and with more detail. Even though we are in the East Coast, we can even see GOES 17 images of fire plumes of the California’s wildfires from a couple of weeks ago. We could also use GOES 16 (East) to see many more details in hurricanes like Michael, Florence and Dorian. This also helps for winter storms and severe weather season, since we can watch the cloud and storm development with more detail. Definitely a great tool! - Joseph

xmjokerxm3 karma

When did you all decide to get into your professions? What was it that made you want to do what you are doing now?

NBCWashington3 karma

Xvash23 karma

How has climate change affected the findings of your winter forecasts?

NBCWashington5 karma

As far as our changing climate goes … winter is the fastest warming season our area, warming three times faster than summer. Overall, according to Climate Central, we’ve warmed 2.5ºF in Washington since 1970. Based on the signals across the planet right now, December is looking to run warmer than normal but due to our changing climate January and February could run warmer than normal too. Globally we are on track to be the 2nd or 3rd warmest year on record. However, warmer temperatures overall do not mean we will be void of cold snaps and likely a few snow storms. With warmer temperatures we are seeing a shift in snowfall patterns. The Great Lakes have seen an increase in annual snowfall (lake effect snow season is getting longer) whereas in the western US we are seeing a decrease in precipitation overall. In the Northeast and here in Washington, research suggests that with a warming climate we may see less nuisance storms but more “big hitters”. Remember “snowmageddon” and "carmageddon”? - Amelia

squishy_panda2 karma

What is your favorite new weather tech (either in or out of the studio) that you have had the chance to use? (Also, love watching you guys here in the DMV! Thanks for the AMA!)

NBCWashington3 karma

I love to work with our Storm Ranger. This is our radar on wheels. We don’t get to use it as often as I would like, but it is a great new tool in our arsenal that no one else has. OUR OWN RADAR ON WHEELS! - Doug

monchota2 karma

Question, why is forcasting getting worse? Is it because weather "companies" are refusing to work together? Or is it because we cant predict climate change? I say this because as an American I use European forcasting because it more accurate most of the time.

NBCWashington5 karma

Weather forecasts are not getting worse. As computers and technology continue to advance weather forecasts continue to improve. - Amelia

-TORERO-2 karma

Is global warming real?

NBCWashington6 karma

Climate change is real, and my answer to this post has a lot of great resources to read up on. - Amelia

billy09762 karma

What is the snow outlook for the DC area this winter?

JellyPerson2 karma

Hi NBC4 team! As a student who lives in Northern Virginia, when do you guys think that snow will hit us?

NBCWashington5 karma

Hi! Check out our winter weather forecast.

BurgerPleaseYT1 karma

What's your favorite burger joint?

NBCWashington2 karma

  • Shake Shack or Capital Burger - Amelia
  • Five Guys - Doug
  • Whataburger - Joseph