Monday, August 25, 2014

What do they say about broken clocks?

From the Farmer's Almanac, via the NY Post, I find this screen capture incredibly ironic:

The article above, dated April 14th and quoting the Farmer's Almanac (which I pulled up this morning on the NYC Post website), indicates an "oppressively hot and humid summer" for the New York area. In the margin are suggested articles relating to weather (that are obviously more recent). There we find  a headline stating "Summer 2014 is the coldest in a decade" (again, relating to New York). Wait a minute...

Say it ain't so!? The Farmer's Almanac -which boasts an 80% accuracy rating - was wrong (again)??

I pulled this year's stats for Central Park for June 1-August 25 (today). The average temperature has been 74.2, which is almost exactly the median over the nearly 140-year record at Central Park. In other words, it was an "average" summer by that metric. However, as quoted in the "coldest in a decade" article above, I also discovered that the highest temperature so far this summer in Central Park has been 91 degrees, which is the 3rd coolest high temperature ever recorded during a Central Park summer since records began (1876).

Graph showing the highest temperature recorded between June 1-August 31 each year at Central Park. In 2014, the highest temp of 91 is the 3rd coolest high temp ever recorded.
So why do I bring this up?

Because people are already asking what this winter will bring. Winter outlooks are starting to pop up, including the latest from the Farmer's Almanac, which predicts "colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains,” according to the AP.  (By the way, the Farmer's Almanac says "chilly and wet" for the southeast U.S., while the OLD Farmer's Almanac predicts "much colder than normal, with below-normal precipitation." Which Almanac should I trust??  Are OLD farmers better weather-guessers than your average farmer?

There are hints, signs, and long-range models that will point you one direction or another. I can show you "evidence" of everything from cold to warm and wet and snowy to dry for our neck of the woods. I can tell you what it "should" do based on the El Nino that is "imminent," and then I will tell you El Nino isn't behaving like the PhD's that are way smarter than me thought it would. The truth is, I honestly have no idea what winter will be like.

If you like reading the Farmer's Almanac (either one of them), by all means go right ahead. But don't bring me their forecast and ask me to refute or defend it. It won't happen. "But it was right back when _______" you'll say! And I'll remind you of the old adage: even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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