Fact-checking the Farmers' Almanac

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by COLLEEN COYLE

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaaweathertoo

WFAA

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 4:05 PM

DALLAS — The Farmers' Almanac hit newsstands Monday and is already creating a buzz for the upcoming winter. The 197-year-old publication is describing the 2013-2014 winter with phrases that include "bitterly cold" and "piercing cold."

Their forecast is also flagging the first week of February for a major snowstorm in the Northeast. This would possibly disrupt the Super Bowl that is being played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey that first week.

Next year's Super Bowl could be renamed the "Storm Bowl" if this prediction plays out.

"Caleb Weatherbee," the pseudonym of the publication's official forecaster, said the "Days of Shivery" are back for the 2013-2014 season. Below average temperatures are predicted for at least two-thirds of the nation.

Texas is pegged to have a "frosty and unusually wet" winter.

The Farmers' Almanac says its predictions are about 80 percent accurate. Does that accuracy hold for past weather events in North Texas?

We checked the facts versus the Farmers' Almanac predictions for three major North Texas weather events. Explanations from the Farmers' Almanac were provided by managing editor Sandi Duncan.

A snowy Super Bowl — First week of February 2011

FACT:  North Texas experienced major winter weather just before the Super Bowl at what was then Cowboys Statdium on February 6, 2011. The first week of February started off with high temperatures in the 20s and lows dropping into the teens. Record snowfall was recorded for February 3-4, 2011 at DFW International Airport. The snowy start to the month plus the icy roads disrupted many Super Bowl activities. Many events were cancelled in and around Dallas-Fort Worth.

FARMERS' ALMANAC PREDICTION: We predicted snow and ice in the days leading up to and after the game, but not for the game day itself.

CONCLUSION: Generally accurate.

The heat wave during the summer of 2011 (June - August 2011)

FACT: The summer of 2011 went in the record books as the 2nd hottest summer ever. DFW International Airport recorded at or above 100-degree temperatures 40 days straight — from July 2 through August 10. That summer also took the top slot for most 100-degree days in a year with a total of 71.

FARMERS' ALMANAC PREDICTION: We predicted that the summer would be "hotter than average."

CONCLUSION: Generally accurate.

April 3, 2012 tornado outbreak

FACT: The afternoon of April 3 turned chaotic as an outflow boundary from Oklahoma swept in producing a tornadic environment across North Texas. There were 17 confirmed tornado touchdowns in North Texas. Even with that many tornadoes touching down in a major metropolitan area, there were no fatalities due to quick responses to the threat of severe weather.

FARMERS' ALMANAC: We predicted thunderstorms. We rarely predict tornadoes, but we make it clear that tornadoes are a threat during any major thunderstorm.

CONCLUSION: Generally accurate.

The Farmers' Almanac had 'general predictions' that did line up with what happened during these three weather events in North Texas. The publication may be a good source to get a general idea of the upcoming weather patterns, but it may not be the best tool for pin-pointing day-to-day forecasts.

According to the Farmers' Almanac, everyone better dust off those coats and gloves for the upcoming winter!

E-mail ccoyle@wfaa.com

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