Supplementary Sidebar - Farmer's Almanac's prediction for the winter of 2013-2014.

Yesterday I was just wondering how the hateful traumatic winter we just enjoyed would effect the coming summer. So, I did a little searching to find some long range forecasts. During this search, I was careful to avoid clicking on any Farmer's Almanac links, because I'd always heard that their accuracy was much the same as if you had predicted the weather by reading the burn marks in your toast.

Well, I accidentally found my way to the Old Farmer's Almanac's weather summary for November 2013 through October 2014 in the Chicago area. Of specific interest is their prediction of the winter. "How'd they do?" you ask? They're shit! Check it out.


I'd recommend not giving their stupid site any extra hits, so here's the pasted text, for your convenience and hilarity.

Annual Weather Summary: November 2013 to October 2014

Winter will be slightly milder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below-normal snowfall in most of the region. The coldest periods will be in mid- to late December, early and mid-January, and in early to mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in mid- and late December and in late January.
April and May will be warmer and a bit rainier than normal.
So there you go. Here we are in April and it's pretty damn cold and cloudy most of the time. Don't even get me started on January and February. Most of the time, the OFA's predictions are so vague as to be useless "In spring, turning warmer!". But to miss something as huge as the winter we just had strains credulity a teensy bit.

There's a term skeptics use: "confirmation bias". Basically, the way it applies here is that positive results are reported very loudly and misses are sort of swept under the rug. This is one of the things that accounts for pretty much every psychic in the world. There's a great podcast called The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, and every January or so, they do a special episode where they review the past year's psychic predictions. They call out the things the psychics predicted that never happened, as well as the huge events they completely failed to see coming. This is kind of how the Farmer's Almanac works, I think. People are excited when they get something right, but it doesn't seem to make the news when they completely blow it on something as huge and obvious as the Polar Vortex winter of '13-'14.


Jim D. said...

I gave up on the Old Farmer's Almanac back in 7th grade, musta been about 'ought77, when I read their story about the Amish hibernating their menfolk in wooden boxes filled with straw and buried out behind the barn. And Foxfire? forget about it. Any fool who read three paragraphs and didn't know it was edited by a pedophile should go work as an altar boy for a year or two.

But geez, what a winter it has been!

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