How Bad Is The Old Farmer’s Almanac Forecast?

August 16, 2015

I see some news articles proclaiming COLD AND SNOWY WINTER COMING from the Old Farmer’s Almanac…seems like a good time to re-post this from two years ago…

Do you ever feel the urge to pick up one of those Farmer’s Almanacs just to see “what’s going to happen this winter”?  Apparently a lot of people do!  But how accurate is it?  Well, it’s not too hard to find opinions, for example:  “…IT NAILED THE SNOWSTORM ON JANUARY 5TH LAST YEAR!”.  But there are very few studies looking at its accuracy.  They claim 80% accuracy…wait, I just choked up laughing…

Jan Null at Golden Gate Weather Services here has checked the almanac’s accuracy several times over the past 15 years, rarely does it do well.

I did do a brief verification of those winter forecasts back around 2,000, but that was lots in a computer change at some point.  So I figured it was time to do it again…

Brian Macmillan and I have been working on a presentation based on 4 winters of Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasts.  By the way, the almanac looks like this:

OldFarmersAlmanacCover2013

It’s not the other one that I referred to back in an August posting that looks like this:  FarmersAlmanac_Cover

We looked at the past 4 winters, but didn’t analyze any sort of “snow/cold” forecasts. Just how the temp and precip forecasts compared to reality.

MarkOldFarmersAlmanac1a

Here are the results…got it all?

MarkOldFarmersAlmanac2

The precipitation forecast was particularly abysmal last winter.  They expected a dry start and a wetter end.  Instead the opposite occurred!   OFA (Old Farmer’s Almanac) was correct on precipitation anomaly (month-wise) only 50% of the time during the 16 months we analyzed.  As you can see the temperature forecasts below were even worse…OFA is wrong far more often than right.

MarkOldFarmersAlmanac1

The conclusion?

MarkOldFarmersAlmanac3

It’s terrible.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen