The Farmers’ Almanac Winter Outlook has been dubbed the “Polar Coaster” this year. Their forecast calls for a “frigid and snowy” forecast in Colorado. Can we count on this?
In short – no. The Farmers’ Almanac is not based off climatology, and there are some key differences between their forecast and the forecast meteorologists are making based off the climate outlook for the winter season.
We have been in an El Nino pattern through the summer and still have some of that influence. However, the ocean is starting to cool, and we are headed into a neutral phase. What this will likely mean for Southern Colorado is wetter-than-average conditions to start the winter, with a little El Nino influence retained, and then a normal end to the season. The NWS also predicts warmer-than-average conditions for most us the US to start winter and cools down the northern U.S. and Great Lakes Region for the end of the season.
As the remains of El Nino leave, colder air will build into Canada. That will allow more arctic air masses to push into the northern U.S., but this is not abnormal by any means. It is just typical for the season.
For southern Colorado, the winter forecast should remain slightly warmer than average, but not necessarily “warm.” It is winter, after all.
Is this “frigid and snowy?” Not necessarily any more than usual, as the headline for the region would lead you to believe.
The most problematic part of the Farmers’ Almanac forecast is how date-specific it can be. They forecast storms and weather events for very specific ranges of dates. Don’t bet on this! The forecast even 10 days out drops significantly in accuracy. Forecasting specific storms months in advance is basically just a guess.
A general outlook for the season is more reliable for those that work in agriculture, and for the average person, your local forecast should be all you need. If we see the potential for a big storm a couple weeks in advance, we’ll let you know it is a possibility.
Take the Farmers’ Almanac forecast with a grain of salt. It is more “fun” than it is an actual forecast.