Get ready this winter to 'shake, shiver, and shovel!' Farmers' Almanac tells readers

·4 min read

Bitter cold will chill Kansas this coming winter, says the Farmers' Almanac.

"Get ready to shake, shiver, and shovel!" says the website for that publication, which was founded in 1818 and is based in Lewiston, Maine.

That almanac has weathered considerable distrust from meteorologists over its long-range forecasts, which it says are created using a secret formula that's centuries old.

'Flake news': Fun play on words?

The Farmers' Almanac publishes weather predictions and sometimes-humorous information about other topics, including gardening, fishing and astronomy.

"Flake news" was the term its 2019 version used to describe its forecast that the winter of 2018-2019 would bring "teeth-chattering cold" to much of the nation.

The Washington Post replied: "Given the publication's checkered credibility, we're not sure if that headline is an attempt at self-deprecating humor or simply a fun play on words. Flake news or fake news, there's no basis for taking the Farmers' Almanac forecast seriously."

The Farmers' Almanac for 2023 predicts a cold winter heading for the Midwest.
The Farmers' Almanac for 2023 predicts a cold winter heading for the Midwest.

What does the weather service say?

While the Farmer's Almanac's 2023 version — scheduled to hit stores Aug. 15 — contains 16 months' worth of extended weather forecasts, critics say even the National Weather Service can't accurately predict weather more than a couple weeks in advance.

The weather service says on its website that it predicts all but the far southwest corner of Kansas this coming winter will have a roughly equal chance of seeing above normal and below normal temperatures. The far southwest corner is expected to see a slightly higher chance of warmer-than-normal weather.

Competitors point to secret formulas to predict weather patterns

Sandi Duncan, managing editor of the Farmers' Almanac, asked The Capital-Journal on Wednesday to be sure not to confuse that publication with its competitor, The Old Farmer's Almanac, which has been published since 1792 and is based in Dublin, N.H.

Both almanacs say they use secret formulas to make long-term weather predictions.

The Old Farmer's Almanac says it creates its forecasts using a mathematical and astronomical formula that involves comparing current solar activity with solar patterns and historical weather conditions.

That formula was developed in 1792 by the almanac's founder, Robert B. Thomas, who thought that magnetic storms on the surface of the sun dictate the earth’s weather, according to the almanac's website.

"Notes about his formula are locked in a black box in our offices," that site says.

The Farmers' Almanac says it uses a "top-secret mathematical and astronomical formula" developed by David Young, with that taking into consideration sunspot activity, tidal action, the position of the planet and many other factors.

Who's right more often?

Both almanacs claim to be right 80% to 85% of the time on their forecasts.

But a study conducted by the University of Illinois concluded The Old Farmer's Almanac's predictions have only been 52% accurate. That study didn't look at predictions by the Farmers' Almanac.

Meteorologists question the predictions of both almanacs, saying their methodology of using solar activity to forecast the weather on earth has no established scientific basis.

"According to numerous media analyses neither The Old Farmer's Almanac nor the Farmers' Almanac gets it right," said USA Today.

What does the Farmers' Almanac predict for the upcoming winter?

Traffic moves slowly along S. Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka last March. The Farmers' Almanac predicts Kansans will again see considerable snow and cold weather during the upcoming winter.
Traffic moves slowly along S. Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka last March. The Farmers' Almanac predicts Kansans will again see considerable snow and cold weather during the upcoming winter.

This coming winter will be colder than normal for most of the U.S., according to the Farmers' Almanac.

Its website says: "Got flannel? Hot chocolate? Snowshoes? It’s time to stock up! According to our extended forecasts, this winter season will have plenty of snow, rain, and mush — as well as some record-breaking cold temperatures!"

The Farmers' Almanac identifies Kansas as being among 10 states in the nation's north-central plains, which it predicts will become a glacial, snow-filled "hibernation zone."

That almanac's website says, "Snow lovers will be happy in (those states) as they will see a fair share of storminess during the winter season, which should mean plenty of snow for winter enthusiasts to enjoy (maybe even in time for a white Christmas?)."

The first week of January in the Rockies and across the Plains should bring a good potential for heavy snow, followed by a sweep of bitterly cold air, the Farmers' Almanac website adds.

What does The Old Farmer's Almanac predict for this upcoming winter?

The Old Farmer's Almanac, which is expected to come out Aug. 30, hasn't yet made public the specific details of its forecasts for the upcoming winter.

"Depending on where you live, this will be the best of winters or memorable for all the wrong reasons,” said Janice Stillman, the almanac's editor, on its website. “One half of the U.S. will be dealing with bone-chilling cold and loads of snow, while the other half may feel like winter never really arrives.”

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at threnchir@gannett.com or 785-213-5934.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Farmers' Almanac predicts cold winter weather, forecasts lots of snow