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Farmers’ Almanac should stay away from weather

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Does the Farmers’ Almanac use a formula to come up with their weather forecast? They say yes.

So like any good son I talk to my dad about every week to week and a half.  Generally we talk about what I imagine any father-son duo talk about like how family is doing and work.  Obviously living in two different regions here in the U.S. my dad often times asks me about the weather here also.  This last time was unique because when he asked me about the weather he mentioned ‘The Farmers’ Almanac and its prediction that had been making the news rounds.  The Periodical, you see, is predicting snow next year for the Super Bowl.  My dad wanted to know what I thought and if that could actually happen.

Now you have to understand for a meteorologist this is a tough question to answer for several different reasons.  For me I never want to bash particular forecasters no matter their qualifications and or methodology as long as they have one.  We forecasters can appreciate something like the yearly groundhog forecast and we generally play along.  In the end we

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Here is our broad region that is forecast as a chunk by the Farmers’ Almanac

 

understand that even those taking part in the groundhog ceremony understand it is what it is.  I know that the owners and editors of the Farmers’ Almanac on some level know that they are not actually making accurate weather predictions.  The difference is that we never see the editors and owners of the almanac making fun of their own predictions, and because we don’t see this many assume that they are really making weather predictions.The Farmers’ Almanac says that their weather predictions are based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula.  Some of the things that they take into consideration are sunspot activity, moon phases, and tidal action along with other sources.  It all sounds great but as you are probably very aware it is hard for us to forecast 5 days out.  The last part of the Almanac’s prediction page is what most disagrees with.  The Almanac claims that their forecast is 80 percent accurate.  An October 1981 issue of Weatherwise shows the magazine is nowhere close to 80 percent correct.   The study found the almanac to be less accurate than chance.

The Farmers’ Almanac says that their weather predictions are based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula.  Some of the things that they take into consideration are sunspot activity, moon phases, and tidal action along with other sources.  It all sounds great but as you are probably very aware it is hard for us to forecast 5 days out.  The last part of the Almanac’s prediction page is what most disagrees with.  The Almanac claims that their forecast is 80 percent accurate.  An October 1981 issue of Weatherwise shows the magazine is nowhere close to 80 percent correct.   The study found the almanac to be less accurate than chance.

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The first edition is nearly 200 years old!

That being said let’s check out this week’s forecast made one year ago today for Indianapolis.  We are in region 6 and for August 24 – 31 the almanac says our weather will be cool with a couple of thunderstorms.  Clearly we are not cool this week with yesterday being the hottest day of the year so far.  Today will likely be warmer with highs possibly hitting the mid 90s.  The last time we saw temps at or below average was on the 16th of this month.  We’ve been dry since the 9th of the month.

So back to my conversation with my dad over the accuracy of the Farmers’ Almanac, you have to understand it’s hard for one met to talk or be hard on anyone else.  We have all been there before with someone being borderline rude while claiming we are never right.  But I had to tell my dad that you can’t go by the almanac.  Maybe it will snow during the New York City Super Bowl this year.  Or maybe it won’t.  At this time if someone says they know what the weather will be like 6 months from now, at best it is a guess.  Let’s all just keep working on getting the next week right!