Is the Farmer's Almanac accurate? Don's calling for snow

Don Schwenneker Image
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Welcome to North Carolina sign with snow

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Every year a new one is issued, and every year, I get asked the same question: "What do you think about the Farmer's Almanac this year? You know, it's saying...."

Well, I'll answer the matter at the end, but let's talk about this yearly prognostication first.

The publication claims to use a "secret formula devised by the founder of this Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792."

Along with past weather and solar activity, the book claims it can forecast for 18 different zones across the U.S. over the next 13 months.

Now, I'm not saying they can't do that, but the biggest supercomputers, processing millions of pieces of data per second, can't forecast rain a couple of weeks in advance.

So, if they are predicting snow during a specific few days in February, and get it right, it would be pretty miraculous. Like Biblical miraculous...

Let's say for a moment they can do it though. I want to drill down into their forecasts, especially for most of North Carolina - or region four as they put it.

The Almanac claims to have 80 percent accuracy, but it's based on very vague and open ended forecast.

On one page it shows a map of North Carolina with 'Mild' stamped across us. On the very next page, it says we will be colder. Will it be colder? Or will it be mild?

At times this winter it will be both, so we better up that accuracy to 100 percent.

Beyond that, they forecast for specific groups of days. The claim that on December 9-12th it will be sunny and cold. First the 'sunny' part. The area they are talking about extends from southern Virginia all the way to the FL/GA line.

I would bet it WILL be sunny somewhere in that area of almost 115,000 square miles!

Plus, the 'cold' part. Cold compared to what? Last week? Last year? Maybe it's compared to July. I GUARANTEE we will be colder in December, compared to earlier in the year.

They specifically call for snow only twice: the first week of January and first week of February.

Actually, they say "rain to snow, then sunny and cold." Again, it's a giant area that happens to include the higher elevations of South Carolina.

By the way, the two months we have the best chance of seeing snowfall in the eastern half of North Carolina: January and February.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't buy a copy. There are some great articles on gardening, astronomy, and pets. There's even an excellent article on the groundhog.

If you are looking for a winter forecast though, I'll give you one here - for free.

My forecast for this winter is: We will see colder weather, with some snow flying in January and/or February.

We probably won't see a white Christmas either. According to our friends at the State Climate Office of North Carolina, we get one about every 20 years (any measurable snow from 24 Dec- 26 Dec).

I know, just call me 'Donny Downer.' Now I'll get back to trying to figure out what the weather will be next week.

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