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How Accurate Is The Old Farmer's Almanac? | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How Accurate Is The Old Farmer's Almanac's Weather Forecast?

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Looking Back on Our Winter 2020–2021 Forecast

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How accurate has The Old Farmers’ Almanac been at predicting long-range weather across the U.S. and Canada? Let’s take a look at the weather predictions from last year (2020–2021). Did we

Every year around Labor Day, The Old Farmer’s Almanac comes out with its long-range weather predictions for the year! Our annual edition includes 12 months of extended forecasts to help gardeners, farmers, weather watchers, and folks from all walks of life plan for the seasons. We cover 18 regions of the United States (and our Canadian edition covers 5 regions of southern Canada).

As well as publishing the year’s extended forecast, we also publish an an analysis of the forecast from the previous year

How Accurate Is The Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Forecast?

We believe that nothing in the universe happens haphazardly, that there is a cause-and-effect pattern to all phenomena. However, although neither we nor any other forecasters have as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict the weather with total accuracy, our results are almost always close to our traditional claim of 80% accuracy.

The 2020–2021 Weather Forecast

As a reminder, The 2021 Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted that the 2020–2021 winter season would bring warmer-than-average temperatures across the eastern and northern parts of the United States, with below-normal average temperatures limited to the western portion of the nation. 

  • For winter, we predicted that temperatures would be colder than normal in Maine; the Intermountain; the Desert Southwest, and Pacific Southwest regions; and eastern Hawaii and near or normal elsewhere.
  • Precipitation was forecasted to be below normal from Delmarva into North Carolina; in the southern Appalachians, George, and Florida; from the Ohio Valley westward to the Pacific and southward to the Gulf and Mexico; and in western Hawaii and above or near normal elsewhere.
  • Snowfall was predicted ti be greater than normal in the Northeast, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, the High Plains, and northern Alaska and below normal in most other areas that receive snow.

See this map to understand the regions referenced.

How Accurate Were We Last Year (2020–2021)?

Our overall accuracy rate was lower than most years. Specifically, the accuracy rate in forecasting the change in temperature versus the previous winter across all 18 regions of the U.S. was 72.2%, while our accuracy rate in forecasting the change in precipitation was 77.8% This is below are traditional average rate of 80%.

  • Our temperature forecasts were incorrect for the Intermountain, Desert Southwest, and Pacific Southwest regions. We also count the Northeast and Hawaii as “misses,” even though in these regions we came infinitesimally close to predicting the proper temperature trends.
  • In precipitation, we were correct in all regions except for the Southeast, Lower Lakes, Heartland, and Intermountain. 
  • When it comes to snowfall, our prediction that snow would be greater than normal in the Northeast was close, but the actual area was from Connecticut to Philadelphia. We were also close in forecasting above-normal snowfall in Wisconsin, with the actual area from southern Wisconsin to Chicago. Our forecasts of above-normal snowfall in the High Plains and northern Alaska were correct.  
  • Upper Michigan had mostly below-normal snowfall, despite our forecast for above, while the northern Ohio Valley, portions of the Deep South, and portions of Washington and Idaho had more snow than we forecasted. In most other areas, our forecast of below-normal snowfall was correct.

See our table that details predictions and actuals for major cities in The 2022 Old Farmer’s Almanac.

How We Make Our Forecast

We derive our weather forecasts from a secret formula that was devised by the founder of this Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792. Thomas believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun.

Some people don’t believe that the minute amount of energy the sun bears could have any influence on the atmosphere and therefore the climate and the weather, but we are among those that do. In addition to solar science (the study of sunspots), we rely on climatology (the study of weather patterns) and meteorology (the study of the atmosphere).

Of course, our exact formula is a secret. But rest assured, the meteorological technology and methods are continually updated. While principles upon which the forecasts are made are essentially the same, we use the latest state-of-the-art satellite data, all the latest technology and equipment. Read more about how we predict the weather.

Get Weather Predictions for 2022

How cold and snowy will this winter be? For specifics on snowfall and temperatures in your region, pick up The 2022 Old Farmer’s Almanac—now available to order!

 

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