The 2019 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac has just been published — along with its annual weather forecasts for the coming year. For Idahoans, the winter predictions may be welcome. The summer forecast? Not so much.
For the Intermountain region, which includes Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, the almanac calls for a mild, snowy winter. That means above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. The precipitation will tend more toward rain than snow in Southern Idaho, the almanac said.
The almanac anticipates a hot summer with less precipitation than usual across a broad swath of the country. In particular, the almanac is calling for a sweltering July, with temperatures averaging about 5 degrees higher than normal.
Of course, there’s cause to be skeptical of the estimates. The almanac, which has been in print since 1792, claims to have an 80 percent accuracy rating for its forecasts, which are based on “a secret formula.”
But two years ago, the almanac predicted “above-normal temperatures” for our winter — right before Boise was walloped by one of the coldest, snowiest seasons in memory.
Last year, almanac forecasters predicted a “colder than normal” winter with “above-average snowfall.” Last winter actually saw above-average temperatures and less overall precipitation than normal, according to Korri Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. The almanac ranked its own accuracy for the 2018 winter at 83 percent.
The Weather Service hasn’t yet released its predictions for this winter’s weather, and Anderson said trying to predict weather patterns that far out is likely ineffective. He said forecasters expect an El Niño weather pattern this winter, which tends to produce above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation — just like the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts.