Farmers’ Almanac “oppressive” summer forecast is laughably wrong


“It looks like it’s going to be an oppressively hot and humid summer for the New York area,” Sandi Duncan, the almanac’s managing editor, told the New York Post in April. (NY Post)

After triumphant success predicting last winter’s brutal cold across much of the nation, the Farmers’ Almanac issued a summer forecast which is turning into a train wreck.  Basically, the opposite of it what it called for has occurred.  Rather than the predicted punishing hot and humid summer for much of the nation, it has turned out pleasantly cool and dry.

On its blog, here is the overview the Almanac offered for the summer’s weather across North America:

…the 2014 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac says the coming summer will be exceptionally hot across much of North America, with “oppressive” humidity throughout the eastern half of the United States. Only the Pacific Northwest is predicted to be “comfortably warm and dry.


Farmers’ Almanac summer outlook (Farmers’ Almanac)

Of course, it has been cooler than average summer over much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., with below average humidity levels.  Meanwhile, scorching hot weather and wildfires have afflicted the Pacific Northwest.


Temperature difference from normal in North America in July.  Blue indicates cooler than normal temperatures, red warmer than normal. (NASA)

Here are some other more specific predictions which have gone wrong:

  • It called for a tropical storm or hurricane to make landfall by the end of June in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.  Close, but Arthur swept across the North Carolina Outer Banks on July 4.  It also incorrectly predicted a hurricane near the Atlantic seaboard in late July.  Again close, but Bertha paralleled the East Coast the first week of August.
  • “In the nation’s midsection, we expect “tornado alley” to flare-up in late June,” the Almanac said.  Tornado activity actually spiked from mid-May through mid-June and then started to flatline.

Tornado activity in 2014 in black (NWS/SPC)

While its forecasts for temperatures and extreme events have been off, its overall precipitation forecast has fared somewhat better (with the exception of the Southeast, which has been dry, rather than wet, as forecast).

“The central part of the nation will see near-normal summer precipitation; the Western states will be drier than normal, while across the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys on east to the Atlantic Seaboard wetter than normal conditions are expected,” the Almanac said.


Precipitation compared to normal May-July (NOAA)

The Almanac’s next big prediction is for a blockbuster hurricane along the East Coast in mid-September, according to the NY Post:

[Almanac managing editor Sandi] Duncan said a severe hurricane will likely threaten the East Coast sometime between Sept. 16 and 19, and take a course similar to that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“We can’t say right now how strong of a storm it will be, but it will likely affect much of the mid-Atlantic, including New York and New Jersey,” Duncan said.

I’m not holding my breath.

Somehow the New York Post presented the Almanac’s predictions as truth, heaping praise on the forecasting outlet uncritically.

The Farmer’s Almanac has a pretty stellar track record of nailing forecasts, even months out,” The NY Post wrote.

Maybe after this summer’s forecast, The NY Post will treat its predictions more skeptically.  I’ll conclude with the same message I posted after reviewing the Almanac’s winter forecast:

[Almanac forecasts are] fun to follow and occasionally right, but have no proven track record, and certainly aren’t a hallmark of credibility.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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