When Greg Whitecomb picked up his copy of the 2015 Old Farmer's Almanac last week, he said he swore and said "Here we go again."
The co-owner of Whitecomb's Farm Market on Roosevelt Avenue in West Manchester Township said he doesn't follow the 223-year-old publication as religiously as other people he knows, but any indicator of repeating last winter is bad news.
Between digging snow off the greenhouses so they don't collapse and paying to run the heaters overnight so the flowers keep growing, Whitecomb said cold winters make the job "pretty miserable."
And when it's cold, he added, people don't buy as much.
"Sales were dragging ... everyone felt the crunch last year," Whitecomb said.
The Old Farmer's Almanac, a volume of neighborly advice released every fall, predicts weather about 18 months in advance. It uses a secret formula that considers not only meteorology but also long-term weather patterns, senior associate editor Sarah Perreault said.
The edition released last Wednesday anticipates winter temperatures "much colder than normal," but with slightly less than average ice and snow.
Perreault said to expect leaving the heater on throughout the season.
"Last year was brutal and our meteorologist is saying to be prepared for much of the same," she said.
Meanwhile, Mark Paquette, a long-term meteorologist for AccuWeather, says his data does not suggest a cold, dry winter, but a mild, wet season.
"There will be cold snaps but it won't be anything like it was last winter," Paquette said. "That being said, we are expecting above average snowfall."
In the meantime: The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, on the other hand, only projects weather up to three months in advance.
Anthony Artusa, a meteorologist with the group, said central Pennsylvania is looking at average or warmer than usual temperatures moving into September.
"It's almost impossible to be able to tell... but I think, if anything, the signals seem to be tilted on the warm side," Artusa said.
Paquette offered a similar forecast for the coming month, despite a recent AccuWeather report that a polar vortex might be on the way.
He said there may be cold patches, but warmer days will balance them out.
"What we do see in September, especially the second half of September, is a cool-snap. We're not talking bitter cold and snow, but highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s," Artusa said. "It's kind of a back and forth thing. When you average temperatures out in the month, it might be pretty average."
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