Start stocking up on heavy coats, flannel and thermal underwear. We may have mostly lucked out for the past two years, but now the venerable Farmers' Almanac is predicting a cold, frosty, wet winter for most of the United States. Even worse, the annual publication says this year's Super Bowl may take place during a particularly bad February week.
This year's predictions come by way of "Caleb Weatherbee," the pseudonymous weather forecaster for the almanac. (Weatherbee doesn't actually exist; it's just a name that has been used by all of the publication's forecasters for generations.)
So what exactly is the Almanac predicting for this winter? New England, New York and most of Pennsylvania will experience a bitterly cold and snow-filled season. The mid-Atlantic states will be cold, wet and blanketed in white. The Southeast will be chilly and wet all winter. Texas and other Southern states will experience frost and above-average dampness. Illinois and the surrounding states will have "biting cold" and snow. The Midwest will see "piercing cold" with normal snowfall. The Pacific Northwest will see a dry and chilly year. The one good region in the predictions is California, Nevada and Arizona, which will see a season of cool with near-normal precipitation.
"Weatherbee" says that the almanac is "red-flagging" the first 10 days of February "for possible heavy winter weather." That will hit Super Bowl XLVIII hard on Feb, 2. The game, to be played at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, will be played outdoors — something not normally done for the big event. "We are forecasting stormy weather for this, the biggest of sporting venues," Weatherbee wrote. "But even if we are off by a day or two with the timing of copious wind, rain, and snow, we wish to stress that this particular part of the winter season will be particularly volatile and especially turbulent."
The almanac is also predicting a mid-March "wave of storminess stretching from coast to coast, bringing a wide variety of precipitation types as well as strong and gusty winds."
So how much credence should you put in the almanac's predictions? Well, despite the publication's long history and claim of 80 percent accuracy, it doesn't really have all that good a track record. As the Washington Post's Jason Samenow wrote in the Capital Weather Gang blog, "no one — with any degree of accuracy ‚ can predict the specific days when cold snaps or storms will occur months in advance." He looks at the almanac's predictions for the winter of 2012-2013 as an example. Last year Weatherbee said it would be cold in the East and mild in the West. "The opposite occurred," Samenow wrote. "The eastern two-thirds of the U.S. had a milder than normal winter and it was cooler than average in parts of the West."
So you might want to take the Farmers' Almanac predictions with a grain of salt. Just in case, though, you might also want to plan on watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of your living room instead of the frigid fields of New Jersey.
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