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July 20, 2024 5:06 am

Local News

What Will Winter Look Like? Depends On Who You Ask


Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a “shivery and snowy” winter for Pennsylvania and the East Coast, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) leans towards one that is warmer than normal. This year’s edition of the almanac is available for purchase now, warning readers that “The eastern half of the U.S. should brace for potentially record-breaking cold to define the season.” It is also anticipating “above-average snow totals to most areas in the eastern U.S. that typically experience snowfall.”

In contrast, NOAA’s experimental long term forecasts are predicting a warmer than average winter for most of the United States, with roughly average rain and snowfall on the East Coast. NOAA typically releases their official winter outlook predictions until October or November, and encourages readers to take long term forecasts with a grain of salt. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, highly accurate predictions beyond about ten days are basically impossible with current technology, and it is unlikely that we will ever be able to accurately predict beyond two weeks.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac disagrees, estimating that its own predictions are roughly 80 percent accurate, and sometimes claiming as high as 96 percent accuracy. Other groups have contradicted this statement, with a 2010 University of Illinois study concluding that the almanac was only right about half the time, which is only slightly better than the 40 percent accuracy of Punxsutawney Phil. Which prediction you want to come true probably has more to do with where you live this year. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a mild and wet winter for the drought stricken West Coast, while NOAA is anticipating a slightly warmer than average winter for most of the country.