EL PASO, Texas -- Winter is almost here, and many predictions have already been made on what type of weather the United States is going to be facing this winter. Two well known and trusted weather-predicting organizations are the Old Farmers' Almanac, and the Farmers' Almanac. The former began in 1792, and the latter began publishing in 1818- that makes these informative publications more than 200 years old!
While these two almanacs have been around for centuries, not everyone knows what those are. These light hearted publications share information about farming, gardening, cooking, fishing, and more - but they also are known for their long term weather forecasts.
The two aforementioned almanacs are sent to publishing a year before the release date. That means, any and all weather predictions for the upcoming year must be done before the next edition is sent to the publisher. The editor of the Farmers' Almanac, Peter Geiger, told ABC-7 that their predictions are done two years before the weather actually occurs. One may wonder, how in the world is it possible to predict the weather two years out?
Geiger explained, "we break it into zones, and we break it into three-day segments." Their weather "prognosticator" as the Farmers' Almanac call it, with the pseudonym 'Caleb Weatherbee', "uses sun spot activity, because whether sun spots are moving or not moving impacts the weather, moon phases, and planet positions," to forecast weather two years in advance.
The Old Farmers' Almanac does things a little bit differently. Janice Stillman, the editor, said her weather predictor uses ”three scientific disciplines: solar science which is the study of the activity on the sun, in particular sun spots that occur in cycles of 11 years on average. And we use climatology, which means we look back in time to see what the sun spots were doing over decades and centuries, and see what the weather was on earth as a result. And we use meteorology which is the study of the atmosphere of course. The jet stream, the ocean temp, and land temps.”
Both have their differences, but also their similarities. What are they predicting for this winter?
The Farmers' Almanac says we will be chilled to the bone, and have near normal precipitation, whereas the Old Farmers' Almanac is predicting cold temperatures, and a snowier and wetter than normal winter.
We compared both of these forecasts with the winter outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, or CPC, which is a governmental agency of meteorologists that use advanced computer models to predict weather. The CPC is predicting a winter that differs from both of the almanacs' forecasts.
Connor Dennhardt, a National Weather Service Meteorologist speaking on the CPC's behalf, said, "Based on the El Niño southern oscillation, we're expecting La Niña to be in place throughout the winter. Which typically for the southern United States, means warmer and drier than normal conditions.”
To make it easier to compare, here is a simplified list:
- Farmers' Almanac: colder than normal, normal precipitation
- Old Farmers' Almanac: colder than normal, snowier and wetter than normal
- CPC: warmer than normal, drier than normal
Which should we abide to? Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until Spring to see which of the three is more accurate. The difficulty in predicting weather is that it is an ever changing science. For now, we will just have to keep our eyes on the sky, and see what happens. And in the meantime, you can always stay updated with the ABC-7 StormTrack forecast.