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

Labor Day Update & Warmer Weather Returns

September 4, 2016

11pm Sunday…

Pretty quiet on this Sunday evening at work.  For one it’s a holiday weekend but it’s also the deadest weather time of the year.  I find September and the first half of October to be my slowest time meteorologically.  We have passed the summer heat waves, most fire weather concerns, and we don’t get many (or any) extremes.  Yet the rainy season doesn’t really kick in until late October (most years) and we don’t get anything other than weak fronts (most years) until around Halloween.  Not much weather action the next 6+ weeks and I find myself bored more often this time of year than any other.

The temps the past 13 days; today was actually 71, not 70:


That said, it’s real clear summer heat is gone and no models show anything extreme in the next 2 weeks.  “Extreme” during this period would mean high temperatures up around 90 or so.  Yet both the GFS and ECMWF show a change after Tuesday’s wet system…a change to warmer than normal as upper-level ridging to our west nudges closer.  Check out the latest GEFS (GFS ensembles) temperature anomaly for the next two weeks:


The ECMWF 850mb ensemble temp chart shows a similar rise beyond midweek:


That dip you see this coming Sunday is a trough coming down the back side of the ridge in the northwesterly flow.  That’s the one spot where I could see us getting showers after Tuesday…maybe Sunday.  We’ll see.  Otherwise there isn’t much rain in sight.  So keep watering!  I mentioned that in tonight’s 12 Day Trend on the 10pm show:


Those temperatures next week might be too low, but the point of this product is to give a general idea of conditions beyond the next week.

For Labor Day things are looking good, we’ll go from clouds to afternoon sunshine.  It’ll average out to Partly Cloudy I suppose.  Enjoy the holiday!


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Summer 2016 Wrap-Up

September 1, 2016

Thursday Evening…

Meteorological Summer has ended now as we plunge into September.  It sure went by quickly, or maybe that’s just because I’m getting older…seems like I just did a Summer 2015 wrap!

My initial thoughts:

What an interesting summer.  Blazing hot to start in June, then about 7 weeks of near normal weather and temps…some would say “quite pleasant”.  There were even fears by some that late July and August could shift us into a “green tomato summer”.  Then, just as some were complaining that it was “the worst summer in 20 years” (yes, I saw that in a comment somewhere!), the heat was back for August.  That month ended up being our 6th warmest August on record, finishing nearly 3 degrees above average.  It was highlighted by 3 separate heatwaves throughout the month.  Technically I suppose the only other heatwave was back in the first few days of June.

I liked this summer, maybe because I was out of town for those 10-13 days of cool/showery weather in June and we didn’t have long periods of hot weather like we saw the past two summers.    Here are the stats:






Let me add a few more tidbits:

  1.  There were lots of complaints about the clouds in the latter part of June and most of July.  Yes, I sure did wake up to LOTS of cloudy days in July.  That was somewhat true…but it wasn’t the totally cloudy days, we just didn’t have as many totally sunny days in July as we are used to.  August made up for that…far more sunny days and fewer cloudy days than normal.  Check out the summer total and you can see it was SUNNIER THAN NORMAL this year without as many mostly cloudy days.  That stat even surprised me!

MarkCloudy Clear Days Summer2. Where was the lightning???  Wow, this must be the deadest lightning year I’ve seen in a decade or two.  Both west and east of the Cascades.  I never even saw lightning at night either at home or camping!

3. 60 degree nights were a bit more reasonable this year.  As of September 1st we’ve seen 32 that warm, which is far better than the past 3 summers; better sleeping weather than we’ve seen for awhile.


What are YOUR thoughts about this summer?

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen