Snowy road

As the summer begins to wind down, it’s time look ahead to see what’s in store for the approaching winter. According to the 2019-2020 Farmer’s Almanac winter forecast released August 26, you may want to “buckle and bundle up.”  The publication predicts a freezing, frigid, and frosty winter for two-thirds of the country, with the worst winter conditions for the areas east of the Rockies all the way to the Appalachian Mountains and particularly harsh winter for the Midwest.

If you are a believer in the Journal’s reports, here are five things to know to prepare for this year’s winter.

1. Polar Coaster Ride Ahead

Brace yourself because this winter will be filled with many ups and downs on the thermometer that it may remind you of a 'Polar Coaster,'" the Almanac states. It’ll be warm, then cold. Cold, then warm. Only the western third of the country will see near-normal winter temperatures.

2. Frigid and Snowy

The most free-falling and frigid temperatures are forecast to take hold from the northern Plains into the Great Lakes. Temperatures in the plains areas could dip as low as -40 degrees, according to the almanac.

3. Final Weeks of Jan. through the Beginning of Feb. will be the Worst 

The coldest outbreak of the season should arrive during the final week of January and last through the beginning of February.

4. Slow Start to Spring

Expect another long winter that could extend all the way into April.

5. Farmer’s Almanac and Old Farmer’s Almanac Differ on Predictions

The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac also released their forecast for the upcoming winter season and the good news is that they are predicting a milder winter for most of the United States which is also consistent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) winter outlook. However, both publications agree that the coldest part of the winter in Minnesota will be the end of January into February.

Farmer’s Almanac vs. Old Farmer’s Almanac

Both have been predicting weather for at least 200 years but the almanacs use different methods to predict long-term weather forecasts and have divided the climate regions across the country in different ways. Both use secret weather prediction formulas. Many meteorologists are skeptical of extended forecasts longer than ten days

Farmers’ Almanac

Founded by David Young from Lewiston, ME in 1818, The Farmer’s Almanac provides long-range weather predictions with rules developed by the first editor. Over the years, the rules have slightly changed into a formula that uses mathematical and astronomical data, such as sunspot activity, tidal action of the Moon, the position of the planets and other factors. The only person who knows the true formula is the Farmers’ Almanac weather forecaster who goes by the pseudonym of Caleb Weatherbee. The publication claims an accuracy rate between 80 - 85 percent.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

Established in 1792 by Robert B. Thomas in Dublin, NH, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is based on the belief that the Earth's weather was influenced by magnetic storms on the surface of the sun. Details on this secret formula are apparently locked in a black box in the almanac's offices. Over the years, this formula began integrating more scientific calculations to make long-range predictions, such as solar science, climatology and meteorology. They claim an 80.5 percent accuracy rate.

MnDOT’s Winter Maintenance Report for the 2018-2019 season reported statewide snowfall average was 97.2 inches, with 31 snow events happening during the season and spending nearly $133 million dollars to clear roads. The storms created a statewide Winter Severity Index score of 154, almost 40 points higher than the 2017-18 Index and the most severe since MnDOT began tracking the severity using the index level. The Winter Severity Index compares nine factors that affect snow and ice removal, including temperature, hours of snowfall, blowing snow and precipitation type.

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