Fall has arrived and for many of us that means that cooler winds are blowing the wind sculptures in our backyards. For those of us living in New England who are just coming off a cooler than average summer, and still have last years brutal winter fresh in our minds, the big question is just what kind of winter can we expect?
I recently overheard a conversation at a local coffee shop. The subject was, what else, the weather.
“Well you know what they say. A cool summer usually precedes a very cold winter.”
“Who exactly is they,” their friend asked.
“I’m not really sure, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, maybe?”
That’s when I thought I’d see what the revered “Old Farmer” had to say when it comes to what we might all expect this winter. But first, did you know that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in the US? Originally known as The Farmer’s Almanac, It was first published in 1792. According to wikipedia, the founder of the Almanac Robert B. That’s when I thought I’d see what the revered “Old Farmer” had to say when it comes to what we might all expect this winter. But first, did you know that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in the US? Originally known as The Farmer’s Almanac, It was first published in 1792. According to wikipedia, the
founder of the Almanac Robert B. Thomas “studied solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns and used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, which is still in use today.” Thomas “studied solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns and used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, which is still in use today.”
A quick trip to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website confirmed what I’d overheard to be true. “Brrrrrr!” OFA was predicting a “bitter cold” winter with “heavy” snow for New England. The Forecast Here’s what the OFA’s is saying for winter 2014 - 2015 for the rest of the nation.
Regarding Temperature, the word is that three quarters of the nation should expect colder than normal temps with the Great Lakes and the Northern Plains experiencing the coldest conditions in late January into early February. Temps in these places could go as low as minus 40. Both coasts are expected to be only slightly more temperate, meaning near normal conditions.
As for precipitation, the Pacific Northwest, some of the Southwestern states and the Northern Plains can expect near normal amounts of precipitation. While the upper mid-west and the Great Lakes Region are likely to experience below normal precipitation - most likely due in part to that extreme cold. The central and southern plains should see above normal amounts of precipitation. The OFA tells us that ten days in January along with the first week of February have been “red flagged” for the Atlantic seaboard to experience harsh winter weather. This means heavy snow and strong winds. Another “red flag” has been
planted on mid-March for the nation’s midsection and the east coast to experience more “wintery”
One open question is the return of El Nino, This phenomenon is caused by the warm Pacific air currents. An El Nino could provide great relief to drought ravaged California and other Southern States. It could even mean slightly warmer temperatures resulting in more rain, less snow and cold to the north and east. The El Nino effect is strongest from December to April. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
A couple more fun facts about the OFA.
• The Farmers Almanac became the Old Farmers Almanac in 1832, when Robert B. Thomas, who served as it’s first editor for fifty years, added “Old” to the name to celebrate the fact his publication had beat out all other competitors.
• Ever wonder why there’s a whole in upper left hand corner of every copy of the OFA? Thomas decided to drill a hole in the corner of each copy to make it easier for the user to hang it on a nail or thread a string through it.
• While the OFA has been published steadily from it’s birthplace in Dublin, NH from it’s beginning there was nearly an unexpected hiatus during World War II. Apparently a German spy who had been arrested in New York was found to have a copy of the OFA in his pocket. According to the US Office of Censorship’s voluntary code of Wartime Practices, Weather was listed as one of several subjects which may be of value to the enemy. To ensure that their long history of publication went unbroken the OFA substituted weather indicators for their in-depth forecasts from 1943 through the end of the war in 1945.