Last winter, readers of the venerable Farmers’ Almanac were advised to punch their ticket for a polar roller coaster, but this winter the 204th edition of the publication is calling it “The Winter of the Great Divide.”
Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, told The Times-Gazette that last winter’s “polar coaster” didn’t experience the hot and cold extremes that were expected.
“Our accuracy runs in the neighborhood of 75 to 80 percent, and last winter we had this thing called an ‘arctic oscillation,’ where the cold hangs up in the Arctic,” he explained. “Some years it doesn’t seep down toward us like we thought it would last year, and it’s not because it wasn’t cold, it’s just that the cold stayed up there for the most part, and the glaciers that were melting refroze.”
Every year since the Farmers’ Almanac was first published in 1818, Geiger said that weather predictions are made two years in advance, based upon a mathematical and astronomical formula developed by its original editor.
“This year we’re talking about ‘the winter of the great divide,’” he said. “The great divide is essentially that the west coast will be mild and dry, the northern states being very cold and the east having a few big storms, and the Ohio Valley and the middle of the country getting a whole barrage of different kinds of weather systems.”
The almanac predicts that winter’s “wild card” will be the region of the Tennessee and lower Ohio Valley, then extending north and east up through New England, predicting a number of intense weather systems that could deliver a mix of rain, ice, sleet and snowy weather throughout the winter season.
He said the publication’s weather predictions for the winter of 2020-21 begin with a major weather system that will sweep heavy precipitation of cold rain or snow through the Ohio Valley on Nov. 4-7.
Snow is forecast for Nov. 16-19, but fair skies should return for Thanksgiving Day.
The final month of 2020 is predicted to begin with light snow, Geiger said, with the Ohio Valley experiencing light snow through Christmas Eve before skies turn fair, giving those hoping for somewhat of a white Christmas something to look forward to.
“You’ll feel the spirit of the season, but you may not have much snow on the ground for Christmas Day,” he said.
The end of December is predicted to have an intense Midwestern winter storm with high winds, heavy snow or mixed precipitation to greet the new year, before turning mild in early February.
“Then we’ll get hit with a big winter storm after that — I think we’ll see some elements of a wacky/quacky kind of winter for southwest Ohio.”
Forecasting temperatures that turn sharply colder in February, he said the Ohio Valley could be looking at significant snowfall before Valentine’s Day.
The almanac’s weather prognosticator expects Old Man Winter’s grip to loosen in the spring of 2021, forecasting that it will be mild and wet for most parts of the country, especially over the central and eastern states during late April.
Aside from the traditional weather predictions that readers look forward to each year, Geiger said he has had readers tell him there is always a “freshness” about the publication.
“You can lay it down and then pick up it up day after day, and always find something interesting to read,” he said. “For our 200th edition, I went back and read all of them, and what struck me was never once did the almanac talk about anything that was going on in the world. This year we broke tradition and there is one paragraph where we briefly mention the pandemic.”
He said that even though the subject of weather always seems to come to mind when the almanac is mentioned, it has always been about how to help people do things, be smarter in life, more knowledgeable or more self-sufficient.
“Whether we have a story about five ways to choose eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products or how to keep mice from ruining your parked car or what in the world is workamping, our purpose at the Farmers’ Almanac is to provide articles that will help you thrive, and make your life a bit easier and happier,” Geiger said.
Copies of the Farmers’ Almanac are available on bookshelves and magazine stands in stores everywhere, he said, and also in the checkout aisle.
He also encouraged readers to visit the website www.FarmersAlmanac.com.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.