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

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:

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


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!

farmers_alamanac_old_2016_2017fcst

And the Farmers’ Almanac shows MILD & STORMY. farmersalmanac_2016_2017fcst

You get to choose which one you like best!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

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

  1. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Hah! Yes! Summer-like weather returns for one final gasp of goodness.

    Woot!

    Naysayers be sad! I prevaileth!

    • Paul D says:

      Who says it’s the last gasp of summer? There’s lots of September left, and why not set some records in October!

  2. Ellen Wallace says:

    I saw on the Weather Channel that it would be mild and stormy – whatever that means…Windstorms? (Would like Mark or Andy to show what a La Nina has done before – I think it was posted before but I am not sure.) Maybe the Weather Channel uses the almanac – it would explain some things…

  3. Paul D says:

    The United CEO is joking, right? He should be prepared for nasty weather EVERY winter in Chicago, because you never know when it’s going to happen, but it WILL happen.

  4. WEATHERDAN says:

    I for one would rather just follow the weather as it happens. To me it’s like a kid at Christmas. It’s better to me to be surprised with what I got, than to know in advance. Peace.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Agreed, although I think with the exception of 2008 Winter I generally speaking don’t have the skill to read the models. Unless they’re that clear the NW deals surprises with or without the models for me lol!

  5. SortingHat says:

    This morning put the BURR in September. Old Man Winter whispered his presence as the mercury dipped to 47F after a midnight high of 51F staying around 54F most of the evening.

    then the thermometer decided to change it’s mind rapidly post midnight and the heat was turned on to normal for the first time of the season and it isn’t even fall yet!

  6. I think you meant the “past winter of 2015-16”. The winter of 2016-17 is still in the future.

  7. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Got it!

  8. Robert Brown says:

    LOL – “Ice cold”, “Numbing Cold”, “Freezing Cold”, and “Penetrating Cold”. What’s the difference?!?!

    • W7ENK says:

      One of them you don’t feel at all, and the others inflict varying degrees of discomfort… or pleasure? I guess that all depends on who you are and how you like it. :-/

  9. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    50% accuracy equals the coin toss. So if you are right half the time and people have short memories, then you come out sounding like a winner to those who steadfast believe in the Farmer’s Almanac.
    Sounds like people and our political affiliations. 🙂

    • W7ENK says:

      Murphy’s Law of Probability

      If there’s a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, there’s a 90% chance you’ll guess the wrong answer.

      Which seems to hold true with most anything, but especially the Farmers Almanac, be it new or old.

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