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Farmers' Almanac, a.k.a. Debbie Downer, Predicts an Icy Winter

By Ali Trachta in News on Aug 25, 2008 9:41PM


As if summer coming to a close weren’t enough to stir up our seasonal depression, now we hear the Farmers' Almanac is predicting a nasty winter in our neck of the woods. The almanac, which boasts an 80 to 85 percent accuracy rate for weather forecasting, claims that two-thirds of the country will experience lower-than-average temperatures, and the upper Midwest will experience more than its normal share of snowfall.

Almanac editor Peter Geiger believes he’s sitting pretty since the book was on track with 2008’s horrendous winter. Still, the almanac’s predictions, which are made two years in advance, conflict with those of the National Weather Service, which calls for warmer-than-normal temps this winter. The Farmers' Almanac bases its predictions on the secret formula of Nostradamus-type Caleb Weatherbee who, according to WBBM, bases his predictions on "sunspots, the position of the planets and the tidal action of the moon." Weatherbee also takes information via email from observers who clue him into folklore-based signs of weather to come.

The National Weather Service bases its predictions on weather trends. Ed Lenic, chief of the operations branch at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, admits it’s difficult to predict weather further than a week out. He argues, “Of course it's possible to prepare a forecast with any lead time you like. Whether or nor that forecast has any accuracy or usable skill is another question.”

So what will win out in this battle of the weather mavens – art or science? We’re hoping science. Sigh.

Photo by dresmall.