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Farmer's Almanac: Fact or Fiction?

What to really expect this winter
Posted at 10:16 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 23:16:38-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It’s 2022 and this new edition of the Old Farmer’s Alamanac is predicting a colder than average winter here in South Texas. But is there any truth to that?

Before we dig into this prediction, what is the Old Farmer’s Almanac? According to the publication, the book provides recipes, planting charts, and weather forecasts, just to name a few topics. The first almanac was published in 1792 by a 26-year-old farmer and teacher named Robert B. Thomas. Now after 230 years, it’s North America’s oldest continuously published periodical.

While the almanac predicts a cold winter in South Texas, the National Weather Service has a different forecast.

Melissa Huffman is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Corpus Christi Weather Forecast Office. "The Climate Prediction Center recently released their winter outlook and that winter outlook for us here in South Texas is calling for warmer and drier than normal conditions,” Huffman says.

And there is an important difference between weather and climate: weather describes daily or short-term conditions, while climate describes long term weather patterns over many years.

“They are related. They're not completely separate groups, but think about your personality as being climate and your mood is being weather. You can have days where you have a bad mood but that doesn't mean that you're an overall bad mood person or negative person. It just means maybe you were having a bad day, but you can also have good days too,” explains Huffman.

While meteorologists use daily observations and models to forecast the weather, climatologists study large scale weather patterns called teleconnections. One teleconnection you might know is the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Right now, we're in a La Niña pattern.

The jetstream acts like a highway upon which storm systems travel across the country. La Niña tends to keep the jetstream well to our north, so many of the season’s cold fronts are less likely to make it all the way down to South Texas. For this reason, our winter outlook calls for warmer, drier conditions.

“But unfortunately it can't capture some of those smaller scale events. It can't capture a single, really strong cold front,” says Huffman.

Predicting a cold front is a weather forecast, not a climate outlook.

The Farmer’s Almanac provides weather forecasts for each month of the year, rather than a climate outlook. Because the weather is always changing, it’s difficult to forecast accurately more than a week out, let alone months.

Melissa Huffman says “I think last February is a really great example. The infamous February Freeze of 2021 was a seasonal anomaly. The Farmer’s Almanac incorrectly predicted February 2021 temperatures to be above average with below average precipitation."

Overall the Farmer’s Almanac lives up to its motto: “useful, with a pleasant degree of humor.”

Of course, you can always rely on the KRIS 6 Weather Team to keep you up to date on any weather coming to the Coastal Bend. For the latest weather updates click here, or download the KRIS 6 News App.