‘Old Farmers Almanac’ winter forecast complying with traditional El Niño values

Ah, the Old Farmers Almanac. Despite its name, these annual long range forecasts never get old. Reading more into the logic of their long range forecasting, the New Hampshire based company claims to derive its skill “from a secret formula that was devised by the founder of this Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792” which admittedly has been modernized as time and technology continually press forward.

I’ve been fascinated by the Old Farmers Almanac since my earliest days of forecasting. Of course, I’m not very advanced in years and couldn’t tell you how accurate they have been over the decades, but the almanacs that I have dating back to 1997 have been fairly accurate. But what can you expect from a super long range forecast? Anything above 50% is impressive to me in my book! In fact, if you’d REALLY like a sneak peek into how accurate the almanac was last winter, read Scott Sistek’s thorough analysis.

So what are the trusty farmers calling for this year, you ask? Perhaps it doesn’t surprise you there are a few stray elements of El Niño in the forecast, but it won’t be your typical El Niño. Yeah, it’s looking milder and drier than normal, but consistently through the winter.

“Winter time temperatures will be a couple degrees above normal, on average,” the almanac states. “Rainfall will be below normal, while snowfall will be near normal.” In fact, the almanac is predicting a nice little snow event for Western Washington a week or so before Christmas. This is also good news for skiers, as the snow pack likely won’t suffer.

Aside from a few snow possibilities sprinkled throughout the year, temperatures during winter 2012/2013 are forecast to average two degrees above normal with the exception of February, which could average as much as six degrees above normal. Precipitation will also be quite low, with December possibly averaging as much as three inches below normal.

A scan through the almanac’s detailed forecast for 18 regions of the U.S. reveals an interesting trend, however: this looks very much like a typical El Niño set up, although it looks like most places in the U.S. will be experiencing drier winters, which isn’t typical for the southeast during this type of pattern.

Take from this long range forecast what you will! I have been compiling some information the past few days and will release a fall forecast soon.

In the mean time, we will be clearing out and getting much warmer over the next few days! We may even hit 80 or more Thursday! Certainly doesn’t look like a fall forecast, but don’t worry. It’s coming 🙂

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap


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