First Trax

The Old Farmer’s Almanac released their 2006-2007 Long Range Weather Predictions and it’s looking pretty good for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.  If you guys have been following SkiNC and SkiSoutheast for the last few years, you will know that we always post the National Weather Service’s forecast, NOAA, Ray Russell and add in additional input from other weather gurus who flood us maps and data that we don’t have the time to decipher.  We also provide the one and only Woolly Worm Forecast (in late October) and of course we count the number of foggy mornings in August to determine how many seasonal snowstorms we’ll have during the subsequent winter.

Last season, one over-zealous SkiSoutheast reader sent us some interesting info rmation about how some weather prognosticators slaughter pigs to dig out their spleen to accurately determine what the Winter will be like. We’ll save the goriest details for someone else to write about, but the spleen is divided into six sections that (depending on the spleen’s width) predict the weather for six months at a time.  According to Gus Wickstrom of Tompkins, Saskatchewan – wherever the spleen has a pronounced bulge in it – expect inclement weather.

Well we’re not ready to begin slaughtering pigs around the High Country just yet, and while the Woolly Worm plays host to a GREAT little festival in Banner Elk – he doesn’t really have much of a track record on predicting weather. Over the last few seasons the cute little critter rates about the same success rate as our trusty weather dartboard. For those unaware, we created a cool dartboard with graphics for snow, cold, rain, warm, etc and then we close our eyes and fire away.  We’re hitting on about 55%!

The last two seasons (check the archives) we posted all of the national, region and local long-range forecasts early in the season…and now because of archiving all articles we can go back and see how they fared. The fact is the national and regional guys haven’t done so well.  However one source has pretty much nailed things and that source is THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC.

Before I catch a lot of heat from meteorologists I HAVE to defend them.  After all a ton of them have my email address and several know where I live! I was having breakfast with Paul Goodloe of the Weather Channel a couple of seasons ago and I related the pre-season, long-range forecasts that numerous sources had sent me.  He chuckled.  I thought maybe I’d left my fly open and when I realized that I’d had no wardrobe malfunctions I asked him, “Paul, what’s so funny?”  He told me that I should take all of those forecasts with a grain of salt since long-range forecasts were traditionally nothing much more than educated guesses based on historical data.  He then made my eyes glaze over by relating what he and other pros WERE looking at (such as El Nino, etc) and then he shared that we should expect a winter of swings with resorts fighting to keep snow on the slopes.  That was two seasons ago and he was dead on correct. Other professionals such as Brad Panovich and my buddy, meteorologist Marcus Lynch dittoed Goodloe’s assessment.

Last season we documented the long range forecasts and they were certainly closer, but only about 50-60% correct if you’re pretty liberal with your “grading” scale. Also when you take into consideration that last season the NWS predicted a 50-50 shot of being colder and snowier OR milder and dry – it’s kind of hard to grade!

I should also go on record by saying that our regional meteorologist have been near perfect in forecasting snows and winter weather within a 3-6 day forecasting period.  However, long-range forecast are just simply not that reliable.

That brings me back to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. These guys have been doing their thing since 1792 and in that time they’ve only had (13) editors of the publication and they’ve used the same formula to make their forecasts since their inception. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continually published periodical featuring home, garden, history, food and fun – but it’s their 80% accuracy in forecasting weather that keeps our attention.

So here we are to the 2006-2007 Winter Forecast according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  This article will be archived as well and hopefully some readers will remind us sometime late in the Winter to look back and see how they did.  If they nail it like they have the last couple of seasons – WE’RE IN FOR SOME GOOD SNOWS THIS WINTER!

Their SUMMARY is that this Winter will be COLDER THAN NORMAL with ABOVE-AVERAGE PRECIPITATION! They do add “near-normal” snowfall and near normal will be better than last winter with the exception of some locally heavy snows like down around Maggie Valley and Cataloochee.  The Cat actually was one of very few areas of the Appalachian Region that received MORE snow than normal.  The rest of us were somewhat less than normal.

The forecast that the coldest periods will be in mid and late December, mid-January and early February.  They predict that the SNOWIEST periods will occur in mid-December, early and late February and early March.  We’ll take that!

You heard it here first – expect and colder and snowier winter this 2006-2007 season! Yahoooooooo!

If you want the full details visit www.Almanac.com

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The Old Farmers Almanac sent us this forecast map for the upcoming 2006-2007 Winter Season and it’s l-o-o-k-i-n-g Good – Check out the story as well –
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