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How Accurate was the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac?

How Accurate was the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac?

With the brand new 2011 Farmers’ Almanac landing in homes over the next few days, the suspense of wondering what we’re predicting for the coming winter will soon be over. That begs the question, though, of just how accurate the Farmers’ Almanac is.

Our standard response to that question is that readers who’ve tracked our predictions against actual weather outcomes estimate that our predictions are between 80% and 85% accurate. In fact, a poll conducted last summer by the Bangor Daily News found that more people trust the Farmers’ Almanac than the National Weather Service. A similar poll done by AOL news determined that the Farmers’ Almanac and the NWS were trusted equally, and 82% of respondents said they trusted the Farmers’ Almanac either “somewhat” or “a lot.” And with good reason, too; last year, the NWS predicted that the winter of 2010-11 would be warmer than normal across the nation, while the Farmers’ Almanac, in contrast, warned that many areas would see very cold conditions and heavy snow.

It’s not often that the Farmers’ Almanac long range forecast calls for extreme events such as blizzards with two or more feet of accumulation, but that’s exactly what weather prognosticator Caleb Weatherbee saw when he consulted his data for the second week of February 2010. He was so confident, in fact, that he insisted we highlight it both in his general weather outlook and in the detailed forecast for February. As it happened, a major storm system, which has since come to be known as “Snowmageddon,” slammed Mid-Atlantic states during not one, but two blizzards over the course of a single week. The snow was so deep, it crippled whole cities, shutting down the federal government as well as cities, both large and small, in much of the Eastern half of the country. February 11-12 saw a remarkable southern snowstorm that buried cities in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Dallas-Fort Worth recorded 12.5-inches of snow, making it their greatest 24-hour snowfall on record. Though Farmers’ Almanac‘s prediction was a couple of days off, thanks to this year’s strong El Niño, its certainty that a major blizzard would hit in early February was right on!

(Check out how we did with our Canadian weather predictions here.)

We accurately forewarned that Southeastern states would experience a wet winter. As predicted, Florida, Georgia, and other Southern locales had a much chillier, wetter, winter than is typical for those usually warmer regions.

Summer?

We also predicted that the summer of 2010 would be a scorcher, with hotter than normal temperatures across most areas of the U.S. and Canada through July and August. Only the Pacific Northwest was forecast to have near-normal temperatures. And that’s exactly how the summer panned out, with the mercury creeping up near, or even beyond, 100° F in areas that rarely, if ever, experience such extreme temperatures. We were caught off guard by how cool Northern California stayed this summer, but we know that Mother Nature likes to keep all of us on our toes.

For more examples of major weather events accurately predicted by the Farmers’ Almanac, visit our On the Money page, and be sure to check out our long-range forecast for your region. Next week here online, we will reveal our winter weather outlook.

17 comments

1 Brendan { 11.11.11 at 11:31 am }

This is, of course, the hard thing to explain when comparing the Almanac to Astrology and such.
Many times they predict the very opposite of what the “experts” predict, and are dead right. For this reason, it doesn’t seem like it can be pidgeonholed with Astrology.

Otherwise, it would have to be strange coincidences for them to post so confidently the opposite of the mainstream weather predictions (even highlighting their sections in some situations) and getting it dead right.

2 steven louton { 09.30.11 at 6:55 pm }

I love my Farmer’s almanac, I buy it year after year what I find your weather information little too generalized.
I live in South Texas and believe me North Texas gets much much colder than what we get in South Texas.

I will say this, I find that if I go opposite of what is predicted I get a pretty good forecast.lol
But I will keep buying my Farmer’s almanac as I have done for the last 10 years.

3 Janet { 02.09.11 at 10:50 am }

I have never seen so much snow in my 36 years in CT as I did this year! It was absolutely awesome! I am a snow lover and can never get enough. I have truly been depressed over the winters of late, with barely one or two six inchers to even speak of, if we were lucky. When I was a kid growing up in CT, we used to get at least 5 or 6 snowfalls with some accumulation, with one or two big ones, but never like this year.I always used to say I would never be satisfied or content with the amount of snow we would get. No storm could impress me. It so annoyed me when everyone would run to the grocery stores every time an inch or more was predicted. We are never snowed in for more than a day or so with the wimpy storms we have been getting. They would always disappoint. This winter was like a dream come true for me. I hope it is a sign of winters to come, and that it is a sign that snow will be returning to CT as it should be. Oh, and my whole reason for commenting was that the Farmer’s Almanac was DEAD ON for the CT forecast of 2010. As a matter of fact, they predicted two of our biggest storms TO THE DAY! Now if that is not impressive, I don’t know what is. How can they possibly do that so far in advance???? AMAZING! I will definitely be following their predictions for next year. I hope it is at least as good as this year, maybe even better. I LOVE IT!

4 admin { 02.07.11 at 9:03 pm }

Hi Lineman – check out out Weather History section: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/weather-history/

5 Lineman { 02.07.11 at 7:11 pm }

How can I find the amount of rainfall that occured in Schellsburg, PA and the surrounding area(7 miles radius) on November 16, 2010.

6 yourmom5566 { 11.04.10 at 10:47 pm }

hmmm ok last year we had a huge snowfall i live in kentucky southern ky and we saw 10 inches of snow which i hvent seen in 17 years!. last year they said the winter was so bad because of el nino. and the farmers alamanc said a veyr bad winter it happened!. but this year there calling for a la nino. making it warmer then average ok. i live in kentucky right wev seen 70 degress temps and were supposed to see them all next week. thats 20 degress above normal. but tonight were supposed to see snow this earily. i cant hardly trust either 1 even tho farmers have been right last year and stuff. but la nino looks like its starting to take over farmers is saying this year were supposed to have if not worse winter than last year for my state. but LA NINO means warmer temps but yet there calling for colder temps wtf?!…lol. but NWS or NOAA is calling for the complete opposite of farmers alamanc i go for farmers because nws cant predict nothing hardly. farmers predict it almost a year before it happens and it happens!. nws predicts it for a week and thye hardly even hit it on the edge!…let snow!….i wanna see the snow my parents always talk back *back in the day* i hope and pray for a blizzard for my area i dont want no1 to get hurt but let it snow 2-3 feet!!!..i would be sooo happy and my entire state would shut down it would be awsomeee!. no school for some 2 months prob. lmfao….ok. ive said it all PEACE OUT!

7 cowgirlcop { 10.23.10 at 4:43 pm }

My wife always look forward to the winter forecast. I will never forget last year the news said Texas would be warmer than usual from EL Nino. I grabbed our copy of the Almanac and read Texas would experience one of the worst winters on record. Which it did! Loved it, thanks!

8 Tom { 09.01.10 at 12:35 pm }

My grandmother set her Almanac ontop of the bible she was afarmer and a great Lady.

9 JacobMN { 08.28.10 at 2:23 pm }

What I meant to say what that in some cases I agree with Maine man. Most of that article was accurate. I’m very happy to have the Almanac because it’s very fun to watch and see how people can predict something that is so difficult to predict! They are usually right for my location and I appreciate it:D

10 JacobMN { 08.28.10 at 2:19 pm }

I do agree with Maine man when it comes to last winters predictions, but most of the time this is pretty accurate. :) I’m super excited for this upcoming winter! I am praying that the northern plains will see some snowstorms like we used to see back in the day!:D

11 Farmers' Almanac Staff { 08.26.10 at 11:59 pm }

Thanks Smackdown!

12 smackdown { 08.26.10 at 11:56 pm }

Your forcast was pretty much on for IL… though I may not have liked it. Winter was cool and did lack the amount of snow I was looking forward too, but I think you will all redeem yourselves this year. Summer was/is very hot and up until now it was very wet. So good job.

13 Nancy B { 08.26.10 at 9:34 pm }

Almanac is better than all the news programs & weather channels. In January, W\we set up all our fishing derbies for the year by it & always work (you can verify the almanac did well, none of the derbies for our bait & tackle shop were cancelled due to weather- ippisbait.com). I also work in a hospital & have a work cook-out each summer- I choose the date for it in January & you have never failed me!!!!

14 Nancy { 08.25.10 at 2:41 pm }

All in all, I trust the Farmers’ Almanac more than the local weatherman, much less the Weather Channel. However, going to region 5 for Arkansas, you just don’t say too much about weather here. More is said west of here, than in Ark., & Louisiana. And it has been so very hot here, soy and rice fields are hurting. But today at last windy and drier and cooler, if 95 is cool. Better than the 110 we’ve had for the last month. That’s here in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Little Rock about the same. I think we are in for a cold winter. Acorns are falling, wooly Caterpillars are around, and some are dead. Squirrels are gathering like crazy, and our goats’ hair is getting thicker earlier this year. Plus we have a lot of crickets. Thanks for all your information. Nancy

15 xmasmom3 { 08.25.10 at 12:10 pm }

The Farmers Almanac is Great! I use it every year to plan my kids birthday parties especially my son’s September party. I like having it outside in the yard. It is the last hurray of the summer. Thanks for providing such a great service.

16 Sandi Duncan { 08.24.10 at 10:02 am }

No offense taken. Predicting the weather is a tough job, but someone has to do it. Today even with all the technology that exists no one can predict the weather with 100% accuracy, and predicting long-range outlooks is even tougher, as anyone will attest.

Each edition of the Farmers’ Almanac provides a seasonal map where we try to summarize our overall predictions for each zone. We also include a written weather summary for the entire country, and then month-by-month zoned predictions. It is within these monthly predictions that you will see what we are truly predicting for each area.

Last year the Farmers’ Almanac did state that the east and west costs might be a bit milder than the middle of the country. But on page 99 of the 2010 Farmers’ Almanac, it also stated the following regarding snowfall…”While three quarters of the country is predicted to see near-or-below average precipitation this winter, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any winter storms! On the contrary, significant snowfalls are forecast for parts of every one. For the Middle Atlantic and Northeast States, for instance, we are predicting a major snowfall in February; possibly even blizzard conditions for New England…” Yes El Nino affected this forecast by pushing the blizzard more south.

We have admitted all year long that our forecast was a bit off due to the El Nino that hit last summer. Because no one has found a way to predict when an El Nino will hit, we’ve never been able to factor them into our predictions.
However, even though we were off in some areas, there were a some major events we called pretty closely, as highlighted above. And, though we expected the Northeast to be colder and snowier than it was, we did say that conditions in New England would be milder than in the Midwest.

The areas that got hit by “Snowmageddon” are still part of our Northeastern forecasting region. We’ve discussed dividing New England from the Mid-Atlantic, because they are pretty distinct climatic regions, though we could make that argument for parts of any of our seven divisions. The forecasts are meant to be an overview of a region, and may not always hold true for any given area within that region.

Summarizing our forecasts to fit on the map can be a challenge. If you look at the zoned forecasts, which we did when we wrote this story, this is how we came up with our overall accuracy for last winter, that plus the comments we’ve received from observers in different areas of the country. We did also forewarn of wet conditions in the southeast and south central states as well as use the word frigid to describe the winter last year.

We appreciate your comments but stand by what the Almanac said and this story.

17 TheMaineMan { 08.23.10 at 6:05 pm }

No offense, but if your forecast missed the mark, it is ok to admit so. You forecast a cool and snowy winter in the northeast, which experienced a rather mild and dry winter. You forecast average precipitation in the mid-Atlantic, which saw one of its wettest and snowiest winters on record. You forecast a mild southeast, which set many cold records this winter. The southwest was wetter than normal, although you forecast it to be dry. The “snowmaggedon” as you call it was forecast to hit the northeast the hardest, which it didn’t even hit. I minored in business so I understand that you are using good marketing techniques, but come on, this is just a stretch to try to claim accuracy this year. Normally you are very, very, very good and I give you credit for that. 2008-2009 you were dead-on, as I’m sure you will be this year. Can’t win them all though, and 2009-2010 was one of those winters… it just does better with me if you admit it and explain why.
Not trying to be a critic, but it bothers me when any organization comes out and stretches the truth to the extent you have regarding this forecast. As I said above, I give you credit for the many forecasts you have hit on the money, but not this time.

Just my opinion, feel free to agree or disagree. I look forward to the 2010-2011 forecast… cheers.

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