'Brisk'? Wet? Dry? Snowy? Farmer's Almanacs, NOAA at odds on winter forecast

Snow in the Seattle area on Feb. 27, 2017. (KOMO Photo)

As summer enjoys its last full day before it comes to a (rather abrupt) end on Friday, it coincides with the NOAA's monthly updated 30- and 90-day forecasts. But I thought now that we're getting close to winter, it would be fun to compare NOAA's thoughts with that of the Farmer's Almanacs.

First up: NOAA, which, in a nutshell, is signaling that that whole record-dry summer we've been talking about? Is not going to extend into autumn:

The orange colors on the left map denote a higher confidence it will be warmer than normal, while the green and brown blobs on the right map indicate forecasters' confidence in whether it'll be wetter (green) or drier (brown) than normal. Note while the forecasts are still leaning a bit warmer than normal in the short term, NOAA forecasters have changed their tune about both the temperature and rainfall a bit from previous forecasts, which had a much stronger warm signal and not much of a rain signal.

The change extends into their winter forecasts, which had been consistently thinking warmer than normal with around average precipitation. Now, a wetter signal is in play, and the warmer orange/brown blobs are gone, replaced with "equal chances" of warm/cool or normal.

The new cooling and wetter trend is due to new forecast model data suggesting this fall and winter will now likely feature La Nina conditions in the Central Pacific Ocean. La Nina winters are usually (but not always) marked by wetter and cooler than normal conditions. To wit: Last winter was a weak La Nina and we checked both boxes (especially the rainfall department.)

For their 90-day forecast between October and December, they've backed off the strength of their confidence in the Northwest having a warmer than normal period because they're hedging that La Nina may begin its cooling influence by the end of the forecast period (as in, late November and December).

And for the winter December-February forecast, the forecasters say while they cooled the temperature outlook back to "equal chances" in this forecast cycle, they may transition into a cooler-than-normal forecast in their next update in October. They said the wetter signal is solid, but they are awaiting more conclusive proof we will become La Nina before going with the traditional cooler than normal forecasts. Right now, the ocean conditions are "neutral" with indications it will likely change to La Nina, but not quite a slam dunk yet. Still, I suspect we'll see the cool blue blobs appear on these 90 day charts at their next update in October.

Farmer's Alamanc(s) not buying a rainy winter

The Farmer's Almanacs though? Going a slightly different route.

The "Old Farmer's Almanac" -- the one with the yellow cover founded in 1792 -- agrees on the cool part, but not so much the rain part:

"Winter will be drier and slightly colder than normal, with near- to below-normal snowfall," The Old Farmers Almanac says in their outlook for the Pacific Northwest. "The coldest periods will occur from late November into early December and in late December, with the snowiest periods in early to mid- and late December."

So... if we finally get a White Christmas (it would be the first official one since 2008) then, well, points to them -- although in their daily forecast breakdown, they don't predict snow till after the 26th.

The Old Farmer's Almanac says their secret weather forecast is based quite a bit off solar and sun spot activity and matching current solar activity to similar past episodes and what the weather was. They now combine that with general weather patterns and meteorology to get their famed forecasts.

What about the other Farmer's Almanac?

The "Farmer's Almanac" -- not the "old" version although it has been around since 1818 so you could maybe call it the "Well Aged Farmer's Almanac" is going with a somewhat similar tune for the Pacific Northwest, describing their forecast as "Brisk, drier than normal."

That's a big vague -- even a mild day in winter here might still be brisk? Is a 52 degree day "brisk"? Although looking at my rather ragged lawn, I'd be a bit concerned by this little tidbit:

And for the record, the Farmer's Almanac says a stormy Christmas, but dry for the end of the year in the Northwest, going polar opposite (literally and figuratively) from the Old Farmer's Almanac.

Anyway, while the Old Farmer's Almanac uses the sun as a basis for their forecasts; the Not-Quite-As-Old Farmer's Almanac goes with the moon -- using its phases and tidal forces as an influence in their calculations.

Or, finally, there's this winter outlook -- technically this was published for last winter, but is probably mostly apropos for this winter too (although last winter certainly wasn't all that "Boring" in the Northwest! -- unless you live here.)

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