The Farmers’ Almanac Says This Winter Will Be an ‘Uncommon’ One

Though it should be taken lightly, some people swear by the Farmers' Almanac predictions each year.

The Old Farmers' Almanac is finally ready to give everyone its prediction for winter 2020-21. And it turns out, this winter may not be as bleak as you’d think.

According to the famed weather-predicting booklet, this winter will be a rather mild one for much of the United States due to low solar activity.

“Although low levels of solar activity have historically been associated with cooler temperatures, on average, across Earth, we believe that rising temperature trends mean that the winter will not be extremely cold,” the Almanac explained.

For the United States, it is predicting a warming trend that will dominate in the eastern and northern parts of the United States, “with below-normal average temperatures limited to the western portion of the nation.” It added, “most of Canada will have a cold and snowy winter. However, rising temperature trends mean that the winter will not bring extreme cold; instead, it will be closer to normal.”

Woman walks dog on beach in winter
Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Here’s where it will be unseasonably cold, snowy, or just plain wet, throughout the season.

Uncommonly Cold:

According to the Almanac, the western states and northeastern portions of New England will experience “uncommonly chilly” temperatures throughout the winter.

“Specifically, winter will be colder than normal in Maine; the Intermountain, Desert Southwest, and Pacific Southwest regions; and eastern Hawaii and above normal elsewhere,” the Almanac said.

Uncommonly Wet:

“On the precipitation side of things, expect ‘wet’ to be a wintertime constant,” the Almanac said, “with rain or average to below-average snowfall to be the standard throughout most of the country.”

Uncommonly Snowy:

Attention skiers and snowboarders: This is the year to head to the Northeast.

“Snowfall will be greater than normal in the Northeast, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, the High Plains, and northern Alaska and below normal in most other areas that receive snow,” the Almanac said. Though the Farmers' Almanac has provided weather predictions for some 200 years, it still should be taken as more of a fun long-term outlook rather than set in stone fact.

"It's difficult enough to do a five-day forecast," Dave Hennen, CNN’s senior meteorologist and executive producer for weather, said in 2016. "We're really good at the day of and the next day, (and) we're better at temperature a ways out than precipitation. But to forecast out that far in advance... even the science behind our long-range forecasting is sometimes not that solid."

Still, it’s not totally worthless. As The News-Gazette reported in 2017, John Walsh, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois, conducted a study testing the accuracy of the Almanac. To find the accuracy number, he compared the forecast with actual weather data over a five-year period. Walsh found the Almanac was correct 51.9% of the time with monthly precipitation forecasts and 50.7% of the time with monthly temperature forecasts. So, not exactly science, but not exactly fiction either. Want to test its accuracy for yourself? Pick up your own copy of the 2020/21 Old Farmers' Almanac now.

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