Farmers’ Almanac predicts ‘teeth-chattering’ winter, but could be bunk

WASHINGTON — Don’t bet the farm on it, but the 200-year-old Farmers’ Almanac is calling for a 2019 winter that will be “colder-than-normal … from the Continental Divide east through the Appalachians.”

The Almanac’s forecast also calls for an “unusually snowy and/or wet” winter for the mid-Atlantic states, Northeast and Pacific Northwest.

” … In these regions, the thermometer will be hovering just above or just below the freezing mark, which means some of the precipitation may fall as either ice or rain/freezing rain.”

The Almanac says it makes its predictions based off a formula that is “mathematical and astronomical,” but does not use “any type of computer satellite tracking equipment, weather lore or groundhogs.”

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Farmers’ Almanac)

The almanac claims its secret formula takes into account sunspot activity, the moon’s effects on the tides and the positions of the planets.

The publication says its long-range forecasts — as predicted by a forecaster with the pseudonym Caleb Weatherbee — are 80 to 85 percent accurate.

This is disputed by modern meteorologists, who say it’s more like 50 percent accuracy or below.

In a 2007 article for Penn State News, Penn State meteorologist Paul Knight said, “The ability to predict events that far in advance is zero.”

“There’s no proven skill, there’s no technique that’s agreed upon in science to be able to do that.”

One of the Almanac’s more infamous botched forecasts was the prediction that Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 would be slammed by a winter storm at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

There was no such storm.

In 2017, Texas station WFAA fact-checked the Almanac’s last six winter predictions and found only two of them to be accurate.

As The Washington Post quipped, it could just be “flake news.”


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up