Farmer's Almanac issues its winter forecast: Can you trust it?

Staff report
An Amish buggy travels through the snow on Feb. 2, 2021, in Earl Township, Pa. The administrator of a medical center in the heart of the Amish community in New Holland Borough estimates as many as 90% of Plain families have since had at least one family member infected with COVID-19, and that this religious enclave achieved what no other community in the United States has: herd immunity.  (Chris Knight/LNP/LancasterOnline via AP)

The Old Farmer's Almanac, the centuries-old soothsayer of climate and crop yields, has issued its winter warning: "Prepare for a season of shivers."

According to the publication, which was founded in 1792, various factors including a weak La Niña — a weather pattern that sees the Polar Jet Stream dip lower across North America — will bring a cold and wet winter to Pennsylvania.

“This coming winter could well be one of the longest and coldest that we’ve seen in years,” said the almanac's editor, Janice Stillman, in a written statement.

Its forecast calls for much of the Atlantic region to experience colder than normal temperatures with slightly below average precipitation. A vast stretch of the Midwest, extending from Kansas and Missouri across the Ohio River Valley to Pittsburgh, will experience snowier conditions, according to the almanac.

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The almanac has managed to maintain a loyal audience for centuries. In addition to its long-term weather forecast, the publication includes a lunar calendar, gardening tips, recipes and even self-help advice.

Its publishers claim an 80% accuracy rate, although many meteorologists remain skeptical. A review conducted by Jan Null in 2016 and 2017 found just a 25% accuracy across the various regions the almanac forecasted in those years.

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The University of Illinois, meanwhile, concluded in 2019 that roughly 52% of the almanac's precipitation forecasts and 51% of its temperature predictions were accurate.

So, flip a coin.

Either way, it may be time to start dusting off your winter clothes.

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