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Published September 12, 2010, 12:11 AM

2011 Old Farmer's Almanac predicts cold, snowy winter for region

It’s not a pig’s spleen or squirrel nuts, but it seems to work just as well. The secret Old Farmer’s Almanac formula has once again predicted the upcoming winter: A cold and snowy one.

By: Wendy Reuer , The Forum

FARGO — It’s not a pig’s spleen or squirrel nuts, but it seems to work just as well.

The secret Old Farmer’s Almanac formula has once again predicted the upcoming winter: A cold and snowy one.

“That’s winter up there. The winter will be about 2 to 3 degrees lower than normal. January will be the coldest month,” said Mare-Anne Jarvela, a senior research editor at Farmer’s Almanac. “Snowfall will be near normal. So, you’re probably not going to get a huge amount.”

The book has been a storm of weather predictions, planting seasons and humorous anecdotes for 219 years.

But authors aren’t just spitting in the wind when trying to predict the weather. They use a mix of scientific research, modern technology, ocean current and sunspot technology. A drizzle of the top secret, original, weather formula is also used.

“It’s an old formula that our first editor, Robert B. Thomas, used when he predicted the weather and he did that for New England,” Jarvela said. “He figured in the moon phases. We’re actually not doing that. But we are using part of that formula.”

The secret, 1792 original formula in Thomas’ handwriting is still kept tucked away in a locked box at an East Coast Almanac office.

“It is a little secret, and we like to keep it that way,” Jarvela said. The predictions are generally 80 to 85 percent accurate, Jarvela said.

Fargo resident Marvin Fejeldseth has read the Almanac but doesn’t put too much stock in the weather predictions.

For Fejeldseth, he lets nature indicate what kind of winter is ahead, watching cues like the height of muskrat huts (the taller, the colder the winter) or how many nuts the squirrels are stocking up on; more nuts equals a harsher winter.

“The animals know way more than we do about predicting weather,” Fejeldseth said.

Sixteen year-old Katelyn Meyer of Oriska, N.D., said she doesn’t rely on the Almanac for her weather, although she has thumbed through the older editions.

“The old ones are more interesting,” Meyer said.

North Dakota State Climatologist Dr. Adnan Akyuz sticks with straight scientific methods for his research, but he somewhat agrees with the Almanac’s predictions.

Akyuz is closely watching the current La Nina phenomenon which could mean much more snowfall this winter.

However, last year, Nina’s brother, El Nino just breezed over the area, showing atypical patterns.

“During the last El Nino, the pattern was a non-typical El Nino and our regions were mostly impacted by arctic oscillations which happen in a short term and higher frequency so, that El Nino was really masked by a greater force,” Akyuz said.

The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a white Thanksgiving, with possible storms around the holidays; however, Jarvela said Christmas time should prove mild.

“There will be some snow and it will turn mild. Then right after Christmas it could turn cold. January will be cold, really cold, about 4 degrees below average,” Jarvela said.

Shereen Meyer of Oriska has heard her share of winter predictors such as butchers who judge the winter on the color of a pig’s spleen. So far, she isn’t warming up to the idea of such a cold winter.

“I hope they’re dead wrong,” she sad.

Even Jarvela can sympathize.

“I hope your winter is not that cold. We could be wrong.”

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