Hot on the heels of the Old Farmer's Almanac predicting a "warm and wet" winter for much of the United States, the completely different, but confusingly similarly-named Farmers' Almanac is warning Americans to dig in and prepare for the opposite.
That's right folks, we've got ourselves a good old-fashioned battle of the almanacs!
According to Caleb Weatherbee and the team at the Farmers' Almanac, the coming 2018-2019 winter looks very much like last year's brutal forecast — but with even more snow, wind and bone-numbing cold.
"Contrary to the stories storming the web, our time-tested, long-range formula is pointing toward a very long, cold, and snow-filled winter," writes editor Peter Geiger. "We stand by our forecast and formula, which accurately predicted the many storms last winter, as well as this summer's steamy, hot conditions."
Unique formulas, different conclusions
So what is it about the Farmers' Almanac formula that lead them to have a much frostier outlook on this year's weather? Whereas the Old Farmer's Almanac's "secret" formula is based on solar activity, prevailing weather patterns and meteorology, the Farmers' Almanac crew rely on "sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position, and other top secret mathematical and astronomical formulas."
In other words, say meteorologists across the country, take any of their predictions with a giant grain of salt.
...your brain subconsciously shrugs off probability and uncertainty narratives and replaces them with stories. This is why the Old Farmers' Almanac or Punxsutawney Phil forecasts are popular. It makes us feel good. Its all in your brain chemistry :)— Scott Sabol, Meteorologist CBM/CCM (@ScottSabolFOX8) August 30, 2018
If anyone is looking for a good forecast, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of the Farmers' Almanac!— Adam Del Rosso (@AdamDWeather) August 22, 2018
Your annual reminder that using the Farmers Almanac for a seasonal meteorological is about as good as going to a psychic.— Matt Lanza (@mattlanza) August 16, 2015
Gazing into the meteorological crystal ball
So what are true meteorologists saying about the coming winter? Most tend to stay away from prognosticating too far into the future, with the standard line being that forecasts are only truly somewhat accurate as far as 10 days in advance. Nonetheless, the National Weather Service released what's called a "Prognostic Discussion" on Aug. 16 that predicted a milder than usual winter for much of the U.S.
Unlike the almanacs, this forecast doesn't take into account sunspots, planetary alignments, or other secret formulas locked in vaults and is instead based on recorded weather conditions during the most recent three complete decades (1982-2010). Furthermore, because weather is constantly shifting, the NWS upgrades its long-term forecast each month, with the next update due on Sept. 20.
So how should you prepare based on the above? Without a doubt, regardless of it's slightly warmer or more wet than snowy or just the opposite, winter is not planning on skipping the U.S. this year. Our advice is to not worry about the future and get out and enjoy what sunshine, warmth, and color lies beyond your computer screen today. We'll all have plenty of time later, coping with shorter days, longer nights and grey skies, to complain about who was right or wrong about the weather to come.