I’ve been getting a lot of comments and questions about the Farmer's Almanac predictions for this winter. That's because the 197-year-old publication is forecasting a “piercing” and “bitterly biting cold winter for many states.
The other piece of information that has a lot of men and women who like wear numbered football jerseys particularly inquisitive about the weather next year is the Almanac's prediction of "possible heavy winter weather" the week of February 2 ... on Super Bowl Sunday.
The NFL league team owners voted to hold the 48th Super Bowl in New Jersey this year, and according to a post on the Almanac’s website: “ This week of the season will be 'particularly volatile and especially turbulent!'"
But wait, there's this, also according the Almanac’s website: “We are forecasting stormy weather for this, the biggest of sporting venues...” And "Almanac" Managing editor Sandi Duncan is already calling Super Bowl XLVIII the “Storm Bowl.”
So let’s do so some research on this beloved piece of literature.
The forecast is put together by some lad who goes by the name of Caleb Weatherbee. This, I’m told, is not his real name.
Mr. “Weatherbee” apparently bases his forecast on a “secret formula” that includes sunspots, the planetary positions and the tides.
Secret formula? Strange pseudonym name? What are the publishers of the Farmer’s Almanac trying to hide from us?
I have to be careful with my skepticism, because after all, this is a beloved piece of literature (that many I hear keep in their bathroom for some … leisurely reading!)
But, I am a little wary of anything that is “secretive” when it comes to weather predictions, including the fact that we’ve never seen or heard from this Mr. Weatherbee character.
I’ve always told people that when it comes to long range weather forecasting, you have to be a little skeptical. Scientifically, we’re getting better at a five-day forecast, but anything past that is much harder to predict.
Also worth noting, is that the "Almanac’s" winter forecast is quite different than the federal government’s outlook (that is the prediction coming from NOAA -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) which is bases its forecasts largely on climatology and statistical trends.
It’s been claimed (by the "Farmer’s Almanac”) that the book is 80 to 85 percent accurate. It declares that its readers can’t go without their predictions -- claiming it’s a “bride’s best friend!”
Wow. That’s quite an endorsement!
But what if it is a football player or fan's worst nightmare?
The NFL has reportedly discussed a contingency plan if a blizzard were to strike New Jersey including the possibility of delaying the game for days.
Last February, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the outcome of the upcoming Super Bowl would impact the league’s consideration of future outdoor cold weather sites. But he also had this to say:
“The game of football is made to be played in the elements. Now, we hope they’re not extreme, but we’ll be prepared for that if that’s the case. Some of our most classic games were played in extreme weather conditions. Some of those games I look back on as a fan and say: That was fun!”
And I suppose it’s always fun to predict the weather for an upcoming winter. Even our favorite furry forecaster Punxsutawney Phil gets huge press around his annual prognostications. And this past year, he predicted an early spring.
In fact, this year, many people in the Northeast wanted him fired for his terrible prediction. And an Ohio prosecutor even filed a criminal indictment against the rodent for fraudulently predicted the early spring!
That said, if we do suddenly have a giant snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, you can bet “Farmer’s Almanac” will take all the credit.
My prediction? Check back with me a week before kickoff time.
Janice Dean is senior meteorologist for Fox News Channel. She is author of two children's books about weather. Her latest is "Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard" (Regnery 2014). Click here for more information on Janice Dean.