The famous Farmers’ Almanac issued their annual forecast for the upcoming winter months across the United States. The image — which can be seen above — shows an extensive area of the country covered in cold, snow, or both.
For much of the Midwest and East, the source is expecting cold and snowy weather throughout the winter. It uses phrases such as “Chilled-to-the-Bone,” “Numbing Cold,” and “Snow Filled” to characterize the weather expected this winter for a majority of the eastern two-thirds of the country.
So, it sounds like it’s going to be quite the winter, right? Well, maybe not.
The Farmers’ Almanac has been around for over 200 years, and claims to be, “The most trusted source for all things weather-related for nearly 200 years.” But is it really trusted by everyone?
The source also goes on to say that many people believe in their forecast products, saying, “Though weather forecasting, and long-range forecasting in particular, remains an inexact science, many longtime Almanac followers claim that our forecasts are 80% to 85% accurate.”
Those are extremely high percentages. It’s impossible to be accurate 85% of the time when predicting events several months ahead of time. It’s difficult to be that accurate about a week ahead of time.
And most meteorologists are often highly skeptical of the these extended forecasts. That’s because we use science to make forecasts. Let’s dive into how exactly the Farmers’ Almanac created its “so frigid every body of water will freeze and snow will pile up to six feet tall” forecast.
The editors deny using any sort of computer satellite tracking equipment. They claim to use a “specific and reliable set of rules” that was developed in 1818.
In this technologically advanced world, it’s nearly impossible to predict the weather without using technology or computer data. That data has come a long way, and it is what meteorologists use to help us make our forecasts.
And although it has been altered slightly, using a formula from nearly 200 years seems problematic. Why, you ask?
Well, climates have changed and meteorology has continued to change over these 200 years. That has meteorologists thinking the methodology used by the Farmers’ Almanac is outdated.
They go on to say this: “To protect this proprietary and reliable formula, the editors of the Farmers’ Almanac prefer to keep both Caleb’s true identity and the formula a closely guarded brand secret.”
It’s odd that if they believe in their forecasting abilities so much that they wouldn’t want others to know how exactly they do it.
So, what do us meteorologists think about this upcoming winter season?
It is nearly all dependent upon whether or not La Nina develops in the Pacific Ocean in the coming months. Still not knowing exactly if La Nina will take hold, the actual scientists at the Climate Prediction Center have issued their winter forecast.
And it isn’t even remotely close to the brutally cold and snowy weather the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting.
For the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin region, the CPC thinks we have an above average chance of seeing more precipitation (rain, snow, ice, or sleet) than usual.
In terms of temperatures, they don’t believe anything is pointing towards a warmer or colder than average winter yet.
The bottom is meteorology is ever-changing, meteorologists are highly skeptical of the Farmers’ Almanac and its methodology, and its forecasts should be taken very lightly.