Saunil Shah came to Minnesota from Mumbai, India, in 2010. But he’s proved to be a quick study on snow, winning this season’s Guess the Snowfall game.

Shah guessed way back in November, when drought was in force, that the Twin Cities would receive 48.5 inches of snow December through March. And that’s how much fell. Exactly.

“I saw that extremely snowy winter in 2010, and one with not so much last year,” he said. “I tried to look for an expert prediction, but I don’t think anyone was offering any. I decided to be conservative. I did some digging. But I think I just tried to roll the dice and pick a number.”

Saunil, 24, who lives in St. Paul and commutes 4 miles to the Mendota Heights semiconductor company where he works as a design engineer, said wishful thinking also played a role.
“Obviously you always go with what you wish it would be,” he said. “I just wanted to see a normal winter with a decent commute to work.”

It may end with just a shade less than normal, which is 54 inches.

The winner for March, Rick Smart, lived up to his name. But he was lucky, too.

Smart’s guess of 13.6 inches was the closest to the official total of 13.8, an above-normal snowfall that surprised many residents and had the effect of making a statistically not-bad winter seem interminably brutal.

The 52-year-old insurance company print and mailroom manager from New Hope said that after February turned out snowier than normal, he picked “random numbers” a little on the high side. Normal March snowfall  in the Twin cities is 10.2 inches.

Smart used to like snow, until he sold his cabin and snowmobile. Now he’s “not really fond of it,” he said. Instead, he’s eager to start gardening, and said he’s hoping the above-normal snow of the past two months means the drought has reversed. He plans to start planting potatoes in three weeks.

Both Shah and Smart earned $25 gift certificates for their accuracy.

That’s it for this winter. See you in late November.