Yes, Those Winter “Almanac Forecasts” Are Still Terrible

October 2, 2019

9am Wednesday…

It’s that time of year! Early October is here and everyone wants to know what Winter 2019-2020 will be like.  I haven’t put much thought into it yet since we just moved into fall, but a lot of you have probably seen these forecasts from the two different “Almanacs”.

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These come out in September each year.  Obviously their summary graphic doesn’t tell you much, but each almanac has some detailed forecasts for the upcoming winter.

But how accurate are they?  What follows is a large part of a 2013 blog post with a few updated graphics…enjoy!

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.

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


It has been in competition with another one for hundreds of years!  That of course would be the Farmers’ Almanac.


They both claim to have a “secret formula” for forecasting weather

Farmers Almanac Forecast Is Crap 1


Back in 2013 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 that winter of 2012-2013.  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.  But the publications do have some stories that I enjoy reading.  Even a recipe for coconut cream pie this year!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen