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Farmers' Almanac winter outlook is here, but is it reliable?

Posted at 9:06 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 22:06:33-04

CENTRAL TEXAS — The Farmers' Almanac has been a bookshelf staple for decades, but the accuracy of its winter predictions can't match the heights of its popularity.

It's been in publication for over two centuries and perhaps its most well-known feature is the winter outlook.

The 2022 edition was just released, and for Texas they offer this description: "Chilled to the bone," with "near-normal precipitation." On the surface, that sounds like good news for Texans who don't want a repeat of last February. Baylor student Luke Twaddell was one of Waco's more fortunate residents.

"My house was one of the only ones on the block that didn't lose power," said Twaddell. "And so we actually kinda became a refugee house. We had several people staying over."

The thought of having to go through something like that again would understandably make some people nervous. But not so much for Baylor student Eddie Lunn. He's a fan of seeing a lot of snow, especially in a place that can get so hot during the summer months.

"It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for me, personally," said Lunn. "But I hope that it doesn't get to the level that it did last year, at least."

Snow lovers and winter grinches alike may turn to the Farmers' Almanac to see what is in store for this winter. The problem is that the forecasts offer little to no value.

Take, for example, the outlook that was just published. Shoveling snow in the Plains? Happens every year.

Mixed precipitation in the Southeast? That's a no-brainer.

The almanac is able to disguise accuracy through vague and generic descriptions.

"I would definitely consider that more of just a vague prediction than anything that you can scientifically rely on," said Twaddell.

The Almanac's website says they are not expecting another disastrous event for Texas this winter, but that's fairly easy for them to say when historic storms by nature don't happen very often. Twaddell said he learned some lessons from the last storm and will be more prepared in the unlikely event that an arctic blast like that strikes us again.

"Definitely have more non-perishable food items in the cabinet this winter than I would have last winter," said Twaddell.

Forecasting aside, there's an appreciation for the tips and stories in the book, which has made it a popular seller for all these years.

In speaking with Lunn, he made a good observation: regardless of any reputation the Almanac might have about its winter speculation, the publication has withstood the test of time.

For seasonal outlooks, the Almanac paints in broad strokes. However, they get more specific in breaking down their outlooks day by day. This, too, poses problems. Specifics are essentially impossible to predict weeks in advance. This is why you can disregard any forecast that at this stage that points to strong thunderstorms on the final day of September, or hefty snow in the second week of January.

Science simply cannot account for that.

So while it's far too early to say if we'll have any extreme weather events this winter, you can trust the First Alert 25 Weather Team to guide you through any winter storm that comes our way.