How Bad Is The Old Farmer’s Almanac Forecast?

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:


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.


Here are the results…got it all?


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.


The conclusion?


It’s terrible.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

100 Responses to How Bad Is The Old Farmer’s Almanac Forecast?

  1. WEATHERDAN says:

    82 and sunny with breezy North winds. Might make it to 84 yet today. Low 80,s Friday then low to mid 90,s over the weekend. 85-90 on Monday then low 80,s for Tuesday through Thursday but no rain. If this verifies we will have had only .01 of rain over the last 85 days. That’s as dry as the desert. Longer range charts hint at some moisture 10 days out but in the Winter snow forecasts 10 or more days out seldom verifies and this one might not either. We have after all had two big can’t miss systems over the last month and have gotten that one little measly hundredth of an inch of rain out of it. Or maybe like the last two Portland and points North will get rain and Salem and Eugene get little or nothing. We shall see. Peace.

  2. MasterNate says:

    BIG CHANGES ARE COMING. I hope. But check this out.

    • David B. says:

      Sweet. Here’s hoping it comes to pass.

    • Joshua says:

      We are loooooong overdue for cooler and wetter than normal weather. It is looking very likely we will at least be cooler than normal starting early-mid next week.

    • Eugene Dave says:

      That sure does look tasty. I’ll believe it when it’s a few days out.

  3. WEATHERDAN says:

    Nice to see you’re ok Mark. 72 and mostly sunny at Noon. Low this morning was 61. That is the 30th time this Summer we have stayed above 60. We are closing in on the record of 33 days set last year. 98 yesterday and about 82 today. After a similar day Friday we get back back to the low to mid 90,s over the weekend. There might be a little rain by late next week. Let’s hope so. It might clean some of the smoke out of the air in Central Oregon. The air over there is even worse than usual. Peace.

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    Pray for the 3 fallen wildfire fighters in Washington.

  5. schmit44 says:

    8/19/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:104 at BLALOK( 277 ft) & CW3932 Central P(1290 ft) & MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft)
    Low: 72 at CW8242 Ashland(3451 ft) & EW3690 Dufur 9e(2444 ft)

    High:56 at Port Orford (US(89 ft)
    Low: 28 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 57 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (97/40 ) (3020 ft )

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    Left Canby Rodeo at 10pm and it was still 76F a lot more comfortable than earlier at 97F at 6pm. Got home to a comfortable 63F. Amazing how much cooler it is and so much more refreshing in the country foothills. You can keep your urban heat islands of concrete and asphalt, I’ll take the forest and hills in the country.

  7. High Desert Mat says:

    Good to hear your ok Mark and those you love. Glad to have you back.

  8. Paul D says:

    The 70’s outnumber the 80’s in the 7day forecast!

    Let’s see if it really happens…..

    • Boring Oregon says:

      Well, it hasn’t worked out the last few weeks so i don’t think it’ll actually pan out.

  9. Cooling trend feels great! Dropped 10° in the past 2 hours. Currently 79 and windy.

  10. MasterNate says:

    I’m finally getting shut off from irrigating out of the Molalla river. This hasn’t happened but a handful of times since the 60’s so I’m told. We drip irrigate 10 acres of blueberries, soon to be 20 acres. Time for plan “B”.

  11. MasterNate says:

    I’m loving the model outputs for the longer range. Looks fairly consistent out to the 27th. We need a good couple of soakers followed by a run of sun with mid 70’s.

  12. umpire says:

    And now Oregon State Parks has banned campfires at all state parks. Guess I’ll be lugging briquettes to Wallowa Lake! Still allowing campstoves and bar-b-cues.

  13. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    It’s officially dry. My last little bit of green yard over the drain field has now decided it wants to be brown as well.

  14. Lee Wilson says:

    Correction we are at 102°F.

  15. runrain says:

    +4 deg over yesterday at 2pm. If that rate continues, we hit 100. Where are those cooling sea breezes. Hope they get here soon.

  16. WEATHERDAN says:

    Went to the Volcanoes/Hops game last night and Mark Nelson was playing center field for the Volcanoes. He struck out three times and made an error that cost the Volcanoes the game. It was 83 and smoky when the game ended. At 1:00 PM it is already up to 90. Should be close to 100 degrees by 5:00 PM. As to where Mark Nelsen is I think it is a medical issue. Probably a family member and not Mark himself. Only time will tell. Peace.

  17. Like most others here, I’m getting tired of the heat and dryness. I did a look back on 40 years of my records and noticed that in past Augusts there is often (not always though) at least a day or more when we get a real soaking rain in within the last 12 days of the month. It’s my hope (be it ever so shakey) that I’ll see one this this year. Tomorrow there’s a chance of showers! :-}

  18. Jason Hougak says:

    Heat and fire and drought O’ my

  19. Joshua says:

    What a gross morning out there. I felt like I was going to die of heat exhaustion walking to work at 6:30. Muggy and hot. Long range models are looking good after this weekend. No heat in sight!

  20. schmit44 says:

    8/18/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:107 at MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft)
    Low: 73 at QUAIL PRAIRIE LO(3183 ft)

    High:58 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 27 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 58 degrees
    KLAMATH NWR (92/34 ) (4531 ft )

  21. Jason Hougak says:

    70.7F water temperature at Astoria. The fall Chinook run which usually gets going by Labor Day may be slow this year. Most fish that dare to enter the warm Columbia will be hard pressed to find releif as well. Most fish will linger longer in the ocean if they haven’t gotten lost trying to avoid the Pacific Blob that has warmed the Gulf of Alaska as much as 9F above normal. Most years the water temp by I-205 hovers 60-65F. With warm water the fish will have locked jaw and run up river to find cooler water.

  22. Linda says:

    Mark……….a little off topic………but, are you on vacation? You’re suddenly not on the TV and no one has mentioned why. Sorry to be so needy but we want you back! Hope you’re well and enjoying your time off, but please come back soon. Oh, and please make summer stop! Will never ever complain about rain, snow, or ice again………….ever! Linda

  23. Paul D says:

    So from here on out every 90+ day breaks a record. Wonderful.

  24. runrain says:

    Quite L.A.-ish looking out there now.

  25. W7ENK says:

    Time lapse video I put together of the Cougar Creek fire currently burning on the SE flank of Mt. Adams in the Washington Cascades. Includes all available images from 11 and 12 August, 2015.

    Images: (C) 2015; Oca Hoeflein, MTADAMS.TV
    — used with written permission

    Music: ‘The Battle Room’ by Steve Jablonsky
    — from YT Audio Library (royalty-free music archive)

    Sad, but beautiful…

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Wow, you can actually see it progressing in that video. That’s one aggressive looking fire. Never knew they could move so quick around here (always thought it was too green – especially in the forest, guess I was wrong).

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Amazing seeing the night scene with the fire and star lite sky with meteors shooting by. Truly a master piece.
      I love Mt. Adams its a great climb but it’s sad seeing it loosing it’s forested beauty.

    • Garron near Washington square says:

      Absolutely amazing video Erik! Really makes you appreciate mother nature’s power. Yeah, those night shots, over the top cool. I got to get up to Larch Mtn. Oregon, and see what I can see this weekend! I imagine there may be a few more irons in the fire after this heat storm.

    • W7ENK says:

      Thanks! I really like the way it came together. 🙂

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Kinda spooky

  26. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Pretty much tired of this summer that started in Feb..
    Time to move on … please.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Yeah we kind of need a week of just straight up thunderstorms, I’d be down for that. I’m getting bored.

    • Paul D says:

      Since I had to start mowing the lawn in February, it should stop growing in October.

      Yeah, right. Like that’ll happen.

      Summer, you’re not welcome anymore. Please leave now.

  27. Jason Hougak says:

    Last weekend hiking in the Cascade wilderness there were people having camp fires in the middle of the day at a mountain lake. Temps were cool in the low 50’s but come on it is a tinderbox ready for a spark. Some folks think a shower is gonna end the fire danger only to realize that they may be the ones to burn down their favorite back county hideaway.

  28. Jason Hougak says:

    The good ole Farmers Outawack

  29. WeatherJack says:

    So it has a 25% success rate and its been horribly wrong the last 3 winters…humm

  30. Taylor says:

    An old Choctaw man that I knew based his coming weather predictions on the number of motor homes heading south each fall.

  31. WEATHERDAN says:

    Since June 2nd the Seattle area has received nearly 2 inches of rain. During that same time frame PDX has received .69 and SLE just .01. As of this coming Saturday SLE will have had it’s driest 80 period ever in recorded history. The previous being .08 in 1967. ( 79 day consecutive day rainless streak + day after. ) As bad as it is up North of us the mid and Southern valley is worse. We need a lot of rain and soon. 87 and windy at 3:00 PM. No smoke yet but it’s coming. Peace.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      After we get out of this el Nino pattern (circa spring 2016), we will be in a more regular pattern and we will be all wishing this nice summer was back. After all, nature really does balance things eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

  32. W7ENK says:

    Honestly, I feel that any accredited news agency that reports ANYTHING from the Farmer’s Almanac as truth, even if — no, ESPECIALLY if it’s just for ratings — should immediately lose their accreditation.

  33. WEATHERDAN says:

    OFA and other long range sources are good for a laugh and nothing more. They are just not credible. With an El Nino pattern the odds are we are in for a warmer and drier Winter than normal. However anything can happen but nothing is guaranteed. As for what Lee is predicting I would ask what you are basing this on or is this simply wishcasting. Up to about 10 days out specific patterns are fairly easy to spot. After that it becomes increasingly less accurate. And 4-6 months out is just about impossible. Big patterns like El Nino or La Nina can only generalize what is likely to happen. The only way we will know what this upcoming Winter will be like is to live through it. We shall find that out in a few months. Peace. 80 at 1:00 PM. On our way to about 90. Summer rolls on.

  34. Lee Wilson says:

    I go by what the animals are doing to prepare for winter.
    my belief is that we are going to have a windy wet Winter with possibly 2 very cold weeks caused by 2 arctic blasts.

    We will have the infamous freeze thaw, freeze flood scenario play out in January.

    In October it will be very stormy. I predict 3 power outages lasting for an hour to 4 hours each.

    I think for good measure I will throw in January thunderstorms.

    February were looking at ” anything goes”.
    March we will have peace and sunny early warm spring. From there we will have some severe storms in April. May and June…won’t be good fro gardens.

    • W7ENK says:

      I’m still waiting for those supercell thunderstorms and EF-3 tornadoes you promised us earlier in the summer…

      Are those still in the forecast?

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Don’t worry Erik, they’re coming, it just may be a hundred years.

  35. They are more often wrong that right, but they do 2 things to keep themselves appearing ‘legitimate”: They make a big deal about the times they were right, and at the same time they downplay (or mention as little as possible) when they were wrong in the past.

  36. schmit44 says:

    8/16/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:94 at EW4856 Brookings(1365 ft) & CW6811 Grants Pa(947 ft) & Medford, Rogue V(1329 ft)
    Low: 71 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:57 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 23 at IRAWS 40 (PUMICE (5956 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 56 degrees
    Beatty (86/30 ) (4320 ft )
    KLAMATH NWR (85/29) (4531 ft)
    DESCHUTES PORTAB (84/28) (4800 ft)
    CABIN LAKE (84/28) (4560 ft)

  37. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Maybe not so accurate…but makes for jolly good reading whilst doing one’s business in the outhouse!

  38. WeatherJack says:

    Humm..ok well so its correct around 25% of the time..and it has missed horribly for the last 3 years…soooo,that means perhaps this Winter its on target???

  39. MasterNate says:

    I know its long range and more than 10 days out but I do like seeing some serious rain fall in the long range models. I haven’t seen this for some time. Also heard talk from other trusted sources that this big ridge may move west at the end of the month allowing systems to drop over the top right into the PNW! One can dream.

    This is a repost from marks last blog. I was 2nd to last!

  40. Garron near Washington square says:

    I’m not a huge fan of the wishcaster’s almanac. I am a fan of this absolutely perfect weather! Gonna be another BBQ and fire pit night with a few cold ones to celebrate!

    • W7ENK says:

      Can’t have a firepit here in Clackamas County. No open flame, whatsoever. That includes charcoal BBQs. Hefty fines if the fire department shows up!! 😦

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