Will You Have a White Christmas?


The "secret formula" used to figure out weather patterns is kept in a locked black box in the museum-like office of Editor Emeritus Judson Hale, whose uncle bought the almanac publication in 1939. A meteorologist and computer models also are on site to help keep up what the Almanac boasted as an 80 percent rate of accuracy.

Some critics have said the Almanac's predictions are too broad. For example, why wouldn't New England have snow in December?

"Our forecasts are deviations from the norm and then when you get down to the specifics, you're talking about in this region over this period of time, we expect these events to occur," Stillman said. "It's kind of a broad stroke forecast for the region…with luck and a lot of study and good faith."

Paul Knight, who lectures on meteorology at Penn State University, said there is zero chance anyone has the ability to predict the weather that far in advance -- let alone the Almanac.

"If they're claiming 80 percent accuracy, if you just go by climatology, you're probably going to be right 60 to 70 percent of the time," Knight said. "So where they're claiming any skill is on those odd events they think they can forecast, but there's no proven method that they have."

'Old Farmer's Almanac' Forecasts Year's Weather

"We don't say we're 80 percent all the time," Stillman said. "It varies."

It varied wildly last winter when "Snomageddon" buried the East Coast, a historic blizzard event that Stillman admitted they hadn't predicted.

"We did not expect there to be above normal snow conditions," she said.

As for Accuweather's forecast that half the country will be covered in snow this Christmas, Stillman laughed and said, "It's entirely possible!"

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