The Old Farmer's Almanac and NOAA Predict a Less Severe Winter

See Where our Forecasts Agree—and Where They Don't

By Chris Burnett
November 15, 2018
Winter Sun

Like clockwork, the weather forecasters at NOAA have released an update for their annual winter weather outlook. So, how do their predictions compare to those of The Old Farmer’s Almanac? Let’s take a look.

Just like the annual Old Farmer’s Almanac, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases a winter outlook each year, looking specifically at winter temperatures and precipitation. Despite the recent cold and snow seen in some parts of the country, both the Almanac and NOAA are still predicting a less severe winter for most of the United States!

Notably, NOAA’s winter outlook is made just a few months before winter, whereas the Almanac’s long range forecasts—which have a historical average accuracy rate of 80%—are created more than twelve months in advance.

How Do Our Winter Forecasts Compare?

In the Almanac’s 2018–2019 Winter Forecast, we’re predicting the development of a weak El Niño early this winter, which is expected to prevent cold air from making lasting inroads into the northern half of the country. Similarly, NOAA’s winter outlook gives El Niño conditions a “70 to 75 percent chance” of developing. To put it simply, this means that warmer-than-normal winter temperatures are likely in store for most of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

But what does “most of the United States” mean, exactly? Well, that’s one place where our forecasts disagree: NOAA predicts that everywhere except for the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Appalachians, and Ohio Valley will see warmer-than-normal temperatures, while we believe that the Southwest part of the country will be the only area to see below-normal temperatures. Generally speaking, though, a majority of states should expect milder winter temperatures.

Our winter predictions also differ when it comes to precipitation, specifically in terms of where and how much precipitation certain areas should expect to get:

  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting drier-than-normal conditions for the Southeast and Texas-Oklahoma regions, while NOAA’s outlook gives the entire southern part of the U.S. a good chance of being wetter than normal.
  • The Almanac also believes that the Northeast, Ohio Valley, West Coast, and most of the Intermountain region are in for a wetter winter this year, whereas NOAA gives these areas equal chances of being wetter or drier than normal.
  • Finally, although NOAA refrains from making predictions of snowfall in their winter outlook, the Almanac expects the Desert Southwest, Intermountain region, and parts of the Heartland to see a snowier season than normal.

Both the NOAA outlook and our own forecast point towards a less severe winter for most of the United States this year. In any case, we hope that you get the weather you want!

Read Our Full Winter Forecast

To see our full predictions for this winter, see our 2018–2019 Winter Weather Forecast—or pick up a copy of The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac for detailed monthly forecasts of winter, spring, and beyond!

Additionally, find two months of free forecasts on our Long Range Weather Forecast pages.


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment


Why do you not talk about the coming solar minimum in your long range forcast.

The weather forecast so far...

that OFA has predicted has been accurate so far. They predicted cold in October and lots of rain in November (which is rare here). But they have been correct. And its rain, not snow.

Rain, not snow

The Editors's picture

Thanks, Sussie! Let us know how we do as the season progresses, please. We appreciate these updates!

Mild winter?

"we’re predicting the development of a weak El Niño early this winter, which is expected to prevent cold air from making lasting inroads into the northern half of the country"....unfortunately it was 4 below on NOVEMBER 23!

Winter Forecast

The Editors's picture

Such extreme cold and snow is certainly unusual for late fall, but do note that our forecast includes predictions for winter only! Additionally, our forecast is based on average temperatures, so some periods of extreme cold should be expected, as should periods of milder winter weather.