Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Weather columnist Kevin Myatt: Roanoke County resident wins snowfall contest for second time
The Roanoke Times
File December Jackson Patterson, 4, plays as his family picks out a tree at Sweet Providence's tree farm site near Tanglewood Mall. Dec. 4 brought snow to Roanoke and Blacksburg.
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Let's take a break from tornadoes, now that it looks like the South and East will finally get a desperately needed break from them for a while with a cooler, more stable weather pattern.
I'll be returning to that subject plenty of times in the days and weeks ahead.
The annual Weather Journal snowfall contest ended on April 15, but I haven't been able to wrap it up yet because of all the storms.
When the contest became an annual event, I never expected there would ever be a repeat champion.
It took only three years to prove me wrong.
Southwest Roanoke County resident Jamie Phillips won the 2010-11 contest after doing the same in the 2009-10 contest.
"I knew that my chances of being a repeat champion were very slim considering the growing number of people who follow your column and your weather blog," Phillips said.
Unlike his victory in the snowy winter of '09-'10, his win in the more miss than hit winter of '10-'11 was very narrow, even though his prediction was far more precise.
Phillips missed Roanoke's first 1-inch snow date by a single day and Blacksburg's by three days -- he guessed Dec. 5 for Roanoke and Dec. 1 for Blacksburg; both were on Dec. 4.
He correctly nailed Roanoke's total snowfall to the nearest inch -- he guessed 10 inches, when 10.4 inches were recorded from Nov. 15 to April 15. He missed Blacksburg's rounded snow total by only an inch -- he guessed 18 inches, when 18.6 inches fell, rounding up to 19.
Adding the days and inches missed on those picks put Phillips at five points in the lowest-score-wins competition, just two points ahead of Dan Summerlin of Roanoke.
Summerlin missed both first snow dates by one each (guessing Dec. 5 on each), Roanoke's snow total by 3 inches (guessing 13) and Blacksburg's by 2 inches (guessing 21) for a total of seven points.
Looking at it another way, the margin between Phillips and Summerlin was as razor-thin as it could possibly be.
One-tenth of an inch more snow at Roanoke would have pushed the rounded total to 11 inches. If that had happened, Phillips would have gained a point, Summerlin would have lost one and they would have tied.
Two-tenths of slushy sleet-snow mix fell on March 27, when a forecasted larger spring snow failed to materialize, pushing the contest to the brink of a tie.
"I had never in my life found myself hoping that it didn't snow, but this contest made me do that," Phillips said. "I think the coolest thing is that my kids love snow so much, but they came up to me and said they didn't want it to snow so I could win the contest."
Others among the top 10 finishers out of about 170 entrants were Wade Mays of Goode with nine points; Steve Murray of Roanoke with 10 points; Frank Bergmann of Hollins and Christopher Jabbarpour of Community School with 11 points; John Bleecker of Cloverdale with 12 points; Anne Chapel Barkett of Lord Botetourt High School and Sarah Lauricella of Community School with 13 points; and Jennifer Bleecker of Cloverdale with 15 points.
Jennifer Bleecker, an 11-year-old who attends Roanoke Catholic School, won last year's first summer prediction contest. I'll introduce the second version of that in the paper within the next couple of weeks.
Weather Journal runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.