The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting an “unseasonably cold” winter for Texas in the upcoming season.
The cold weather advisory holds true in most places nationwide according to the journal, but the message to Texans is direct.
“Texans will need to bundle up, as unseasonably cold weather is forecast throughout January and February, with a possible major winter storm in mid-January.”
The state has seen varying degrees of winter storms in recent years, with an ice storm resulting in power outages in Austin this past winter, freezing temperatures in 2022, and of course, a days-long, deeply cold storm that resulted in significant power outages and hundreds of deaths across Texas in 2021 amid Winter Storm Uri.
More:Starting with 2021, compare how the past three winter storms have looked in Austin
Austin, Texas Feb. 15, 2021: A rare winter snowfall measuring at least half a foot hits central Texas as the State Capitol and Congress Avenue becomes nearly impassable. Rolling power blackouts have been instituted to save critical electricity. (Bob Daemmrich/CapitolPressPhoto) .
So is this forecast a cause for concern? Let’s look at how accurate the Almanac has been with their predictions.
How accurate is the Farmers’ Almanac?
The journal says they have an accuracy rate of about 80%, but other students say it is right only about half of the time.
A 2010 University of Illinois study tested the accuracy of the almanac’s monthly temperatures and precipitation forecasts by comparing them to the actual weather data over a five-year period and found monthly precipitation forecasts were 51.9 percent accurate and monthly temperature forecasts were 50.7 percent accurate.
If we look at the last three winters in Texas, here’s what the Almanac forecast and what really happened:
Prior to Winter Storm Uri in 2021, the Almanac’s 2020-21 predictions said that in Texas and multiple bordering states, “Mother Nature will mix intervals of tranquil weather with occasional shots of cold and wintry precipitation but overall may seem to be a bit ‘temperamental.’”
That’s putting it mildly. Winter Storm Uri caused power outages that lasted for days and nearly 250 people died during the storm.
The next year, the Almanac said Texas and Oklahoma’s weather in January “may bring some potentially frigid and flaky weather like you experienced last winter. Hopefully, it won’t be as robust, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.”
This was more accurate than the previous year’s forecast, although the freezing temperatures didn’t come until February and were not nearly as frigid or devastating as 2021.
Last year, the Almanac said they saw “good potential for heavy snow that may reach as far south as Texas and Oklahoma, followed by a sweep of bitterly cold air.” That forecast for cold air translated into an ice storm here in Austin.
How does Farmers’ Almanac make forecasts?
Farmers’ Almanac has been forecasting the weather for over two centuries. According to the outlet, they do this by using a formula developed by the original editor David Young, an astronomer and mathematician in 1818.
The rules have been altered slightly and turned into a formula that is both mathematical and astronomical, but the exact method used remains a guarded secret by the Almanac. What we do know is that sunspot activity, tides, the position of planets and more are taken into account.