With the brand new 2011 Farmers’ Almanac landing in homes over the next few days, the suspense of wondering what we’re predicting for the coming winter will soon be over. That begs the question, though, of just how accurate the Farmers’ Almanac is.
Our standard response to that question is that readers who’ve tracked our predictions against actual weather outcomes estimate that our predictions are between 80% and 85% accurate. In fact, a poll conducted last summer by the Bangor Daily News found that more people trust the Farmers’ Almanac than the National Weather Service. A similar poll done by AOL news determined that the Farmers’ Almanac and the NWS were trusted equally, and 82% of respondents said they trusted the Farmers’ Almanac either “somewhat” or “a lot.” And with good reason, too; last year, the NWS predicted that the winter of 2010-11 would be warmer than normal across the nation, while the Farmers’ Almanac, in contrast, warned that many areas would see very cold conditions and heavy snow.
It’s not often that the Farmers’ Almanac long range forecast calls for extreme events such as blizzards with two or more feet of accumulation, but that’s exactly what weather prognosticator Caleb Weatherbee saw when he consulted his data for the second week of February 2010. He was so confident, in fact, that he insisted we highlight it both in his general weather outlook and in the detailed forecast for February. As it happened, a major storm system, which has since come to be known as “Snowmageddon,” slammed Mid-Atlantic states during not one, but two blizzards over the course of a single week. The snow was so deep, it crippled whole cities, shutting down the federal government as well as cities, both large and small, in much of the Eastern half of the country. February 11-12 saw a remarkable southern snowstorm that buried cities in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Dallas-Fort Worth recorded 12.5-inches of snow, making it their greatest 24-hour snowfall on record. Though Farmers’ Almanac‘s prediction was a couple of days off, thanks to this year’s strong El Niño, its certainty that a major blizzard would hit in early February was right on!
We accurately forewarned that Southeastern states would experience a wet winter. As predicted, Florida, Georgia, and other Southern locales had a much chillier, wetter, winter than is typical for those usually warmer regions.
We also predicted that the summer of 2010 would be a scorcher, with hotter than normal temperatures across most areas of the U.S. and Canada through July and August. Only the Pacific Northwest was forecast to have near-normal temperatures. And that’s exactly how the summer panned out, with the mercury creeping up near, or even beyond, 100° F in areas that rarely, if ever, experience such extreme temperatures. We were caught off guard by how cool Northern California stayed this summer, but we know that Mother Nature likes to keep all of us on our toes.
For more examples of major weather events accurately predicted by the Farmers’ Almanac, visit our On the Money page, and be sure to check out our long-range forecast for your region. Next week here online, we will reveal our winter weather outlook.