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Farmer’s Almanac sees another harsh winter

Chris Oaks spoke with Mare-Anne Jarvela, senior editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Q: The Almanac, of course, is known for its long-range weather forecast. And you realize that you’re probably not the most popular person in this part of the country these days with your prediction of another cold and snowy winter. What’s up with that?
A: It just happens that it’s going to be a repeat of last year, or even worse. It looks like we’re in a pattern of cold winters right now, and in the Lower Lakes Region it appears February is actually going to be a warmer month, but then March will dip down below average with more snowstorms.
But you’re not alone. Two-thirds of the country will be colder and snowier than average. Even Florida will be cold and wet, so there’s no escape.
Q: I know the formula for creating the annual year-long forecast is a closely-guarded secret but, in general, how do you come up with your predictions?
A: We start about a year in advance to gather the data. Contrary to what some people believe, we don’t measure the bands on the wooly worms or watch what the squirrels are doing to guess at what that means for the upcoming winter.
We use computers to analyze historical patterns, along with sunspot activity, and ocean currents, among other scientific data.
Q: So you believe that what many consider to be unusual weather are simply the normal cyclical patterns we’ve seen over the years, and not indicative of any broader climate change?
A: Right now we’re on about an 11-year cycle and, if you look back, you’ll see there were some really cold winters. Other indicators we’re seeing will intensify that, but yes, the weather certainly is cyclical.
Q: What about the weather for the rest of the year? What’s that going to be like?
A: Well, the good news is that April will be the total opposite of March, warmer than normal with just enough rain to get the garden in. And then summer will be hotter than normal, with near-normal rainfall. 2015 will be a warmer summer than we’ve had this year.
Q: While the Almanac has been published each year since 1792 (making it the oldest continuously published periodical in the United States), you certainly have kept up with the times. I wonder what founder Robert B. Thomas would think.
A: I believe he would approve. After all, we think of a printed almanac as old-fashioned and quaint, but widespread distribution of printed material was pretty advanced at the time.
Today, of course, we have a comprehensive website and several mobile apps, but we find many of our readers still prefer the familiar printed almanac, still with the hole in the upper-left corner to hang on a nail in the workshop or garden shed.
“Good Mornings!” with Chris Oaks airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on WFIN, 1330 kHz. He can be reached by email at chrisoaks@wfin.com, or at 419-422-4545.

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