MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Farmers' Almanac released their extended forecast for this winter season this week, and the Internet is already buzzing with the news that it could be another cold and snowy winter in much of the country.
Their forecast calls for a "shivery, wet, and slushy" winter in the Memphis area. They also claim that many areas should expect heavy snow and cold temperatures in the first week of January 2023.
The Farmers' Almanac says they accurately predicted many of last season's winter storms months before they actually happened. But is it really possible to predict the weather that far in advance? Let's check it out.
Is the Farmers' Almanac accurate in predicting the weather for the upcoming winter season?
Interestingly, there are actually two different almanacs - the Farmers' Almanac and the Old Farmers' Almanac - that both release their own seasonal forecasts. For this test, we're going to look into the Farmers' Almanac.
In order to put the accuracy of the Farmers' Almanac to the test, we looked back at the forecasts for the last 10 winter seasons which are released in August each year. We then compared that forecast to what actually happened in the Memphis area to determine if it was accurate or not.
When all of that was said and done, we came up with an accuracy percentage for the Farmers' Almanac winter forecast of 45%.
So, in reality, the Farmers' Almanac is not that accurate in predicting weather months in advance. The truth is, no one really is. Beyond a forecast of 5 to 10 days, weather patterns are generally not that predictable and forecasts can change significantly. Forecasts beyond that time frame might only be as accurate as the flip of a coin.
The accuracy really needs some more context though, so let's add it.
You may notice that these extended winter outlooks use fairly generic words like "chilly" or "snowy." When it comes down to it, they'll probably be right at some point each year, just because of how generic they are. We could put out a forecast of "hot" for July 2035 and we'd probably be correct.
There's a problem with generic forecasts like the Farmers' Almanac - they're very subjective. A forecast of "very cold" can mean different things to different people. What if it's warm all winter, but we have one major cold snap? Some may call that accurate, and others may not.
You'll also see extended outlooks use buzz words like "winter battle zone," "hibernation zone," or "significant shivers," which can be up for interpretation depending on the person.
Sometimes meteorologists can get a decent idea of if the upcoming season is going to be warmer or cooler than normal, but no one can give you a precise forecast for months in advance.
For what it's worth, the official NOAA winter outlook is due out in mid-October, which may give us a slightly better idea of what to expect.
So, do you trust the Farmers' Almanac? Do you think their forecast for the 2022-2023 winter will be accurate?