Those Farmers’ Almanacs, At Least One CEO Believes Them!

September 7, 2016

Today a quote came out from the CEO of United Airlines.  To paraphrase, he said that since the Farmer’s Almanac says it will be a terrible winter at their hub in Chicago they are making preps for that.  Hmmm, I wonder where they get the rest of their forecasts for flight planning?

It’s well known within the meteorological community that those almanac forecasts are sometimes even WORSE THAN JUST GUESSING.  Yes, that’s possible!  Here’s part of a post I did on just this subject a few years ago.

(from 2013)

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…

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?


Back to now, September 7th, 2016…

Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Service has reviewed this past winter 2015-2016 here:  here’s a spoiler, it wasn’t COLD & SNOWY last winter west of the Cascades as forecast!  Once again the forecast for last winter was terrible here.

Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang just posted a great article about that CEO of United Airlines said to be busily preparing his troops for the big winter ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, as a gardener and outdoorsman I like a lot of the information in those almanacs.  It’s good stuff!  But skip the weather forecasts please!

Well, I can’t stop…just for fun…take a look at both of them for this coming winter, first the Old Farmer’s Almanac shows the same thing as last year, COLD & SNOWY!


And the Farmers’ Almanac shows MILD & STORMY. farmersalmanac_2016_2017fcst

You get to choose which one you like best!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen