Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Farmer's Almanac (Mis)Prediction

Joseph D'Aleo was the first Director of Meteorology at the cable TV "The Weather Channel," and, now, a noted global warming skeptic.

He was also chosen as the weather expert for this year's "The Old Farmer's Almanac," published in the tiny town of Dublin, NH, which you would most likely miss if you were to drive through it on NH's Rte 101.

D'Aleo gets a lot of publicity from his GW skepticism. So how well does he do in forecasting the weather?

Not very good, from what I can tell. Not very good at all.

I bought a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac 2009 about two months ago, complete with its hole in the upper left-hand corner so you can hang it by a string in your outhouse. For the Pacific Northwest, here's what D'Oleo predicts for this time of year:

Dec 14-18: Occasional rain, mild
Dec 19-23: Rain, then sunny, mild

Needless to say, our weather in the last several days has been anything but this: lower temperatures than normal, with cold, lots of snow, and very little sun. Not "mild" in the least.


The Farmer's Almanac says their weather forecasts are based on a "secret formula" devised by the Almanac's founder, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792. Thomas "believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun."

The Farmer's Almanac claims an accuracy rate of 80% for their weather predictions. I have no evidence to back that up, and they present none either.

I don't believe them for a second.

1 comment:

John Fleck said...

Every year, one of my editors tosses the press release copy of the Farmer's Almanac on my desk, asking me to do a story. It's a taunt, because he knows their forecasts are crap, and he knows I know their forecasts are crap. Every year I nod politely and set it aside, devoting my energies to actual forecasts.

But I have spent time looking at them (it's the least I can do for him). The seem to use the classic astrologer's trick: statements sufficiently vague and ambiguous that you can use hindsight to tease an appearance of accuracy from them.