BOSTON (CBS) – Winter forecast 2021-2022. Too early? Most definitely. But you couldn’t resist to click could you?
Every year one of the first publications to forecast the winter weather is the Farmers’ Almanac. Did you know, that in fact, the Farmers’ Almanac actually calculates the winter forecasts two years in advance and holds firm to their predictions?
This is one of their “claims to fame” saying on their website: “Unlike your local news, government, or commercial weather service, the Almanac’s forecasts are calculated two years in advance. Once the new edition is printed, the editors never go back to change or update its forecasts the way other local sources do.”
I can’t help but think they are taking a direct shot at us local TV meteorologists there.
Do our forecasts change? Absolutely. But that is just a biproduct of trying to predict what will happen in an ever-changing, volatile atmosphere that surrounds us.
Imagine us putting up a 7-day forecast for each week of winter in August. And I am not even talking about THIS COMING winter, I am talking about the following winter! The level of ridicule on social media is unimaginable.
Before I go on, let me just say, I actually really like and enjoy the Farmers’ Almanac.
They have a ton of great material from astronomy to gardening. I buy it every year. I’d just prefer they stay out of the weather prediction business. Not that it offends me, but more so I find myself having to calm everyone down each summer when it comes out. I had a plow driver contact me just the other day asking about the “stormy January” he heard was coming this year. My response – “Say what now? Oh, did the Farmers’ Almanac come out?” Sure enough.
So how do they do it?
It is hard enough to forecast the next seven days, never mind a season or year or TWO in advance. Our weather team likes to take a stab at the winter forecast each November, sometimes we hit it, sometimes we don’t. Our forecast is based on large atmospheric factors at play and is typically very general, “Warmer than average” or “Snowier than average.”
Even that can be hard to predict several months in advance. The Farmers’ Almanac apparently uses a “200-year-old formula” which takes into account things like sunspots, the moon/tides and other planets. Their recipe is so secret they say that there is only one man who truly knows the ingredients, “Caleb Weatherbee.” That’s obviously not his real name, but they do this to protect his identity. (I’m on to you Eric Fisher!)
How accurate are they?
I kind of equate their success level to that of a cheap fortune teller. Take some of their predictions for this coming winter. “Stormy January,” “Winter Whopper towards the end of February,” and “Stretches of quiet weather and stormy weather in March with a nor’easter near the end.”
This reminds me of the guy in front of the crowd saying, “I am seeing someone with the letter M… has there been some tragedy in your life?” I mean chances are, we will have some stormy weather at some point in January. And, predicting a winter whopper in February in New England is kind of like predicting a hot summer in Phoenix, not exactly going out on a limb. Don’t even get me started with the changeable weather in March forecast.
Lastly, they are predicting the possibility of a blizzard during the second week of January, final week of February and second week of March. If you throw enough darts while blindfolded, sooner or later one will hit a bullseye.
But again, none of us would be surprised at a blizzard during any one of those weeks. I assure you though, pinpointing specific weeks (months in advance) for higher threats of storms is essentially like predicting the Patriots final scores for midseason games before you even get the schedule. Sure, you could hit one, and you know they will probably win (much like we know it will probably snow in winter), but it would be a complete stroke of luck.
Let me say it one more time. I like the Almanac! I am a big fan! Go out and grab it! Just don’t come up to me and ask me about that blizzard that is coming in the second week of January.
I would love to finish this blog with my thoughts on the upcoming winter, but honestly, I don’t have many! What we know now – there is likely to be a La Nina. Ocean temperatures are likely to remain warmer than average in large portions of the Pacific and Atlantic.
And, given the current state of our climate, I would be shocked if we had consecutive months of below average temperatures. It just doesn’t happen anymore. We are living in a warmer world and forecasting entire seasons of below average temperatures is really going out on a limb.
That’s it! That’s all I got for now. Our WBZ-TV weather team will take a more in-depth stab at the winter in November. Until then, let’s just hope it stops raining long enough to enjoy some of the fall!
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ