In researching the use of tidal forces in long range weather forecasting, I came across an interesting August 30th, 2010 Associated Press/ MSNBC article based on interviews with Farmer’s Almanac Editors Sandi Duncan and Peter Geiger, and Ed O’Lenic from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center:
“Good news, winter haters: After record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic and unusually cold weather down South, the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a “kinder and gentler” winter.
After eyeing the skies, tidal action and sunspots, the folks at the 194-year-old publication say in their 2011 edition going on sale Monday that it’ll be cold but nothing like last winter, when 49 states saw snow and it got so cold in Florida that iguanas fell out of trees.
“Overall, it looks like it’s going to be a kinder and gentler winter, especially in the areas that had a rough winter last year,” said managing editor Sandi Duncan.”
“The Farmers’ Almanac, which claims 80 to 85 percent accuracy and says it correctly forecast heavy snow in Middle Atlantic states last winter, bases its predictions on a secret mathematical formula using the position of the planets, tidal action of the moon and sunspots.
Ed O’Lenic from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said the scientific community doesn’t accept tides, planetary alignment and sunspots as effective predictors of temperature or precipitation, but he stopped short of calling the almanac’s meteorological methods a bunch of hooey.
“In science you have to have an open mind. Someday, someone could conceivably find some scintilla of evidence that it’s useful,” O’Lenic, chief of the operations branch, said of the almanac’s methodology. “For the time being, we have to stick with what produces results for us.”
“For the record, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates a warmer-than-normal winter for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and colder-than-normal weather in the Northwest. That puts it at odds with the almanac, which calls for mild temperatures in the Northwest and cold in the Southeast.”
“The Pacific Northwest should brace for a colder and wetter than average winter, while most of the South and Southeast will be warmer and drier than average through February 2011, according to the annual Winter Outlook released today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.”
“Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation. Winter weather for these regions is often driven not by La Niña but by weather patterns over the northern Atlantic Ocean and Arctic. These are often more short-term, and are generally predictable only a week or so in advance. If enough cold air and moisture are in place, areas north of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast could see above-average snow”
“Florida: drier than average, with an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures.”
“Central U.S.: equal chances of above-near-or below normal temperatures and precipitation”
“Wintry Battle Zone But No Snowmageddon
In general, the East Coast will be granted a reprieve from the tremendous snowfall that caused 2009-2010′s winter to be dubbed “snowmageddon.”
This does not mean a free pass for the Northeast. Bastardi predicts late November and December could get winter off to a fast start in the East, with a major thaw coming for much of the country in January.
Bastardi makes the early cold connection between this year’s active hurricane season and his winter forecast.
He said that years that see significant landfall, such as 1995, 2008 and 2005, usually also have cold for much of the eastern and central portions of the nation in December.
He said this year from the central Rockies to the Northeast a higher variance of temperatures will be present – “greater-than-normal swings between winter’s coldest and warmest days.” The conflicting warm and cold air masses contributing to these temperature fluctuations have placed this area into what Bastardi calls the “Wintry Battle Zone.”
Despite the wild swings in temperatures, cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will still have near-normal snowfall. To put this in perspective, New York City receives an average of 28.4 inches of snowfall during winter.”
“Winter will be colder and drier than normal, on average, with below-normal snowfall in New England and above-normal snowfall elsewhere. The coldest periods will be in mid-December, January, and mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in early January and mid- and late February.”
Hmmm, “with below-normal snowfall in New England”. According to this January 28, 2011 Boston Globe article January 28, 2011 Boston Globe article “In Somerville, New England’s most densely populated city, some snowbanks are so tall that they deflect the plume of snow cleared by plow trucks and send it sliding back down to the street, said Michael Meehan, a city spokesman. Between storms, crews have been trying to clear snow piles and dump them on basketball courts, while the real estate trust planning a 50-acre redevelopment at Assembly Square has offered the city private land for use as a snow farm.”
In terms of The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast that “The coldest periods will be in mid-December, January, and mid-February.” here are Weekly Mean Temperatures for the Northeast:
Week-Ending | Mean Temperature | Anomaly
20101204 | 33.76 | 0.90
20101211 | 26.15 | -4.02
20101218 | 23.80 | -4.01
20101225 | 22.68 | -3.12
20110101 | 24.45 | 0.35
20110108 | 24.73 | 2.00
20110115 | 22.28 | 0.37
20110122 | 20.86 | -0.54
20110129 | 19.89 | -1.64
20110205 | 19.93 | -2.15
20110212 | 20.84 | -2.22
20110219 | 25.70 | 1.20
20110226 | 26.21 | -0.20
20110305 | 28.28 | -0.41
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – National Climatic Data Center (NCDC):
I guess that you could call December 5th – 25th “mid-December”, but the first half of January had the warmest anomaly of an otherwise freezing winter and “mid-February” i.e. Feb 13th – 19th, was actually the only positive anomaly in the month of February.
Here are all of the Old Farmer’s Almanac Regional Annual Weather Summaries:
Note that you can verify the veracity, or lack thereof, of many of the weather predictions on the new WUWT US Weather History Reference Page:
And let us not forget about the UK MET Office who are apparently still trying to figure out what their forecast was, or at least what they renamed it and where they buried it on their website;
but, according to this October 28th, 2010 article in the Telegraph;
“Although the Met Office no longer issues long-term forecasts, their latest data suggest a high probability of a warmer winter for London, the East of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The South West, Wales and most of the North of England are less likely to enjoy such relatively pleasant temperatures but still have a 40 to 60 percent chance of being mild.
The statistics were generated by the Met Office’s new £33million supercomputer built by IBM.
Forecasters used it to analyse how likely temperatures and rainfall were to be above normal for winter but not how far above.
The average temperature for winter from 1971 to 2000 is 3.7C (39F). However, last year was 1.5C (35F), meaning anything above the 30-year normal this winter would be a marked improvement with far less chance of snow and ice.
As well as the milder winter, the computer concluded that almost all of Britain had a 40 to 60% of being drier than normal, with only the south coast more likely to see normal amounts of rain.”
How bad was the MET Office’s forecast? Per this March 4th, 2011 Article in Farmers Weekly Interactive;
“Britain’s worst winter weather for 100 years will cost farmers more than £100m, a Farmers Weekly investigation has revealed.
Farmers across the country have been left counting the cost of lost crops, collapsed livestock buildings and burst pipes.
Rural insurers said 2010 would go down in history as the worst year on record for cold weather claims.
Among the worst-hit are England’s 4000 sugar beet growers. Temperatures plunging to -13C in December followed by a mild and wet January left £52m of sugar beet rotting in the fields, according to Farmers Weekly calculations based on British Sugar figures.”
In summary, the long range forecasts of the Farmer’s Almanac, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Accuweather and the UK MET Office all appear to be suspect. Why?