If the weather predictions for 2023 in the Farmers’ Almanac prove to be accurate, Highland County and the rest of Ohio are facing the promise of a harrowing and blustery winter.
According to the almanac, winter is coming earlier than last year and will bring a lot of snow, rain and record-breaking low temperatures. The Ohio Valley and Great Lakes area will see an active storm track bringing precipitation that will fall more as snow. During portions of the season, it is predicted to be a lot of snow.
The zone covering Ohio is categorized as unreasonably cold and snowy for the winter.
“People that follow our forecasts say we’re about 80 to 85 percent accurate,” said Farmer’s Almanac Managing Editor Sandi Duncan. “I think that people give us a little bit more leeway than they possibly do for the local meteorologists because we do give a forecast so far in advance as well as giving it by regions and not by local zip code.”
Nate McGinnis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said the agency typically doesn’t comment on the Farmers’ Almanac prediction and the service won’t make a forecast for the upcoming winter for a few months.
He said if La Nina conditions continue in the Eastern Pacific, it may give a general indication of what the winter season is going to be like. The La Nina pattern has been in place for the past two winters, and one of those winters had above normal snowfall and the other winter had above normal precipitation but below normal snowfall.
“Winter forecasts can be pretty tough, and as of right now we don’t have an official winter forecast yet,” said McGinnis. “I think that would probably come sometime in October.”
McGinnis wouldn’t speculate about the accuracy of the predictions in the almanac. “I know the Farmers’ Almanac does their own thing, and it’s not to say that they don’t have their own methods, but it’s just the way things work in the agency,” he said.
Duncan couldn’t divulge specifics about the forecasting methods used by the almanac as it is considered a trade secret, but she said there is a person named Caleb Weatherbee who makes the predictions.
“That’s not his real name, but he is a real person, and he basically uses a set of rules or formulas that date back to 1818,” she said. “It’s a mathematical and astronomical formula that takes into account things like sunspot activity, tidal acts of the moon, position of the planets and a variety of other factors.”
She said the method has been altered slightly over the years but is mainly based on the original set of rules.
“Overall, we’re seeing a winter of shakes, shiver and shoveling,” said Duncan. “In your area, we’re seeing the unreasonably cold and snowy.” She said the almanac is predicting some snowy weather just before Christmas in the local area that will turn mild on the actual holiday. According to the publication’s predictions, some brutally cold conditions will happen in the middle of January and a big storm is looming in the middle of February.
Duncan said the almanac makes weather predictions about two years ahead of time for production purposes.
“It’s just something we’ve always done that way, so we don’t have the leisure of changing it like sometimes the local forecasters do,” she said.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.