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The Farmer’s Almanac

Toronto Skyline in the winter

As we are rapidly approaching the beginning of winter and our snow removal season, there is always flurry of activity at the MPS Office. We are busy signing snow removal contracts, buying new equipment, closing out our summer season and hiring employees for our winter team. One question we all have on our mind is ‘what will this winter be like’. Many people turn to The Farmer’s Almanac for an early prediction of the upcoming long-range forecast, but what is The Farmer’s Almanac and is it actually reliable?

What is The Farmer’s Almanac?

When it comes to the snow removal services we provide, many people use the predictions of the farmer’s almanac but what they don’t realize is that there are actually two almanacs, The Farmer’s Almanac and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The Old Farmer’s Almanac dates back to 1792 and the first edition of The Farmer’s Almanac was published in 1818. Both are publications containing long-range weather forecasts, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles on gardening, sports, astronomy, and folklore.
Each new edition is released 16-18 months in advance of its weather predictions. The Old Farmer’s Almanac bases its predictions on 18 regions throughout the US, while The Farmer’s Almanac breaks its weather predictions down into 7 North American climate zones.

How is it predicted?

Both of the almanac’s long-range forecasts focus on temperature and precipitation deviations from the averages. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is based on solar activity, prevailing weather patterns and meteorology. The Farmers’ Almanac is calculated using a mathematical and astronomical formula which incorporates solar activity, lunar activity and positions of the planets. One major difference in the almanacs forecasting is that The Old Farmer’s Almanac incorporates satellite data, jet-stream patterns and ocean temperature records, and The Farmer’s Almanac does not.

What is being predicted for Ontario’s winter 2018-2019

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting winter temperatures close to normal, on average, with above-normal precipitation and snowfall for southern Ontario. With above average precipitation predicted, it’s important to have your contracts signed for snow removal in Markham. The coldest periods will be from mid-late December, through to early February. The snowiest periods will be in early December, mid-February, and early to mid-March.


Are the Farmer’s Almanacs Accurate?

Publishers of The Farmer’s Almanac say that “many long-time Almanac followers claim that their forecasts are 80% to 85% accurate” on their website. It has never been tested to find its actual accuracy.
However, the accuracy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s predictions was challenged by John Walsh, a professor at the University of Illinois Atmospheric Sciences. He reviewed the accuracy of five years of monthly forecasts from 32 weather stations around the country and found that only 50.7% of the monthly temperature forecasts and 51.9% of precipitation forecasts to correctly predict a deviation from averages.
Therefore, the almanacs may not be the most accurate at predicting the long-range weather trends. Looks like we will have to wait and see what this winter brings us!