Farmers’ Almanac offers its yearly outlook for winter
EAGLE COUNTY — The Farmers’ Almanac winter prediction is not for the winter-weary, but it’s good news for outdoor winter sports enthusiasts.
The 198th edition forecasts that “no region will see prolonged spells of above-normal temperatures.”
The Farmers’ Almanac goes out on a limb by predicting that it’ll get really cold the final week of January and into February, saying temperatures across the country’s Northern Plains could drop to 40 below.
In areas where snowfall averages may be lower this winter, like Colorado’s Central Rockies, the temperatures will be cold enough to support plenty of snow making.
“While we don’t think the winter will be as extreme as last year, we do believe that it’s going to be another one for the record books,” said Farmers’ Almanac editor Peter Geiger.
Sandi Duncan, managing editor with the Farmers’ Almanac, reminds us that it accurately forecast last year’s cold and snow-filled winter.
Yeah, saying winter will see snow and cold is a little like George Carlin’s weatherman character Al Sleet predicting, “Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.”
El Nino explained
When the 2015 edition went to print, the National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino warning.
Matthew Aleksa is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He applied some actual science to all this and came up with a definite maybe.
“We’ll be going toward an El Nino, but we’re not sure how strong,” Aleksa said.
Typically with El Nino, we see a wet fall and wet spring but a dry winter, Aleksa patiently explained.
El Nino is based on the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. Warmer temperatures tend to mean a milder winter and less snow.
“We’ll still see some snow, but El Nino tends to be a wetter fall and spring,” Aleksa said.
La Nina, on the other hand, brings us cooler temperatures and more snow, Aleksa said.
Then the jet stream has to bring us all that cold and dry or warm and moist air.
“It’s all based on all strong it will be. That’s why the forecasts tend to call for equal chances of a strong snow or weak snow year,” Aleksa said. “We’ll still get some good winter storms. We’ll see our fair share of snow.”
Joel Gratz writes for Open Snow, a website about skiing and winter sports. He tends to be skeptical of the Farmers’ Almanac or anyone else’s long-range predictions.
“Instead of blindly trusting (or not trusting) the Farmers’ Almanac winter forecasts, shouldn’t we first look back and see how they performed last year? At the very least this will help us know if they have a track record of accuracy or a track record of baloney,” Gratz wrote.
The Farmers’ Almanac was incorrect last year across most of the West, where it predicted cool temperatures while most locations were warmer than average, Gratz said.
Still, like Major League Baseball’s trading deadlines and college football’s national signing day, long-range forecasts may not mean much, but they can be entertaining.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.