Predicting Annual Snowfall


By Phil Harwood

You may not believe me, but it’s possible to predict how much snow will fall next winter with almost perfect accuracy. I promise you that I’m telling you the truth. Statistics do not lie. If you’re in the snow and ice management industry, this blog post is for you. 

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Now, I understand your skepticism. There once was a company in our industry claiming that they could determine how many inches of snow would fall in any given location on a week-by-week basis throughout the winter. They claimed to have a track record of success and that major retailers were using their service to better predict the timing of seasonal changes in their merchandise, staffing needs, etc. I was extremely skeptical and couldn’t wait to see if their predictions were accurate. Of course, one year later the company was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t buying the snake oil they were selling. As it turned out, it was just smoke and mirrors. 

Can we predict the exact number of inches of snow that will fall in a location next winter? Of course not. But we can know for certain some important data points that will help to inform us and our clients about snow fall totals. While we can’t know for certain the exact number of inches of snow, we can know for certain the statistical probability of snowfall totals within a range. And, that, my friends, is as good as gold. Let me explain. 

Property owners and managers have an interest in optimizing their investment by maximizing revenue and minimizing expenses. Where does snow and ice management fit into this equation? 

You may think that snow and ice management is an expense. You’re right. It most certainly is. But it’s more than a line item expense because there are other factors that are closely related that come into play. The expense of litigating slip-and-fall lawsuits or increased insurance premiums due to claims history, for example, is one example of a related expense. Another is damage to reputation and goodwill by tenants who are unable to open their stores, or access their docks, or get to their offices. 

It is only the short-sighted or uninformed (ignorant?) property owner/manager who looks at snow and ice management as a single line item. 

The owners and managers who understand the reality of the situation - probably because someone like you educated them - care more about the overall impact on both revenue and expense control. They’re more interested in cost-certainty and reducing risk than exposing themselves to greater risk. 

So, how does this relate to snow fall totals? Here’s how. We know for certain that there is a 100% probability that it will snow from (a) inches to (b) inches in our market. Statistics don’t lie. We also know that there is a 90% probability that it will snow from (c) inches to (d) inches. We know for certain what the 80% range is, the 70% range, the 60% range, and the 50% range. Our clients probably don’t know any of this unless we educate them. 

When we present snow & ice management as a risk-management solution, the seasonal cost has absolutely nothing to do with how much it’s going to snow in any particular season. What matters is the risk exposure. 

If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend attending the Snowfighters Institute’s Forum for Sales. There are two opportunities this year to do so. 

May 22-23 in Milford, MA
August 14-15 in Novi, MI

Visit the SFI website to learn more or to register. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: Statistics , ice management , risk-management solution ,