Debunked: The Old Farmer’s Almanac

A child walks across a snow covered road Tuesday , Feb. 2, 2016, in Omaha, Neb.  A howling storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on some parts of Colorado was laying it on thick in Nebraska and Iowa Tuesday, bringing with it the potential for severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes elsewhere. (Matt Miller/Omaha World-Herald via AP)
A child walks across a snow covered road Tuesday , Feb. 2, 2016, in Omaha, Neb. A howling storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on some parts of Colorado was laying it on thick in Nebraska and Iowa Tuesday, bringing with it the potential for severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes elsewhere. (Matt Miller/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Area farmers are filled with joy – and it’s not just because of the upcoming holidays. Crop yields are ‘up’ this year – leaving the drought of yesteryear nothing but a distant memory.

Steve Porubsky, a local farmer, says “I’m having, personally a very good bean year – my corn yields are down just a little bit from last year. But, my beans are excellent – I’m having better beans than I’ve had in a number of years.”

Rain is a good thing – especially if it comes at the right time of the year. There’s even an old adage for that.

Francis Kelsey, another local farmer explains, “Well, Dad always told me he preferred dry June’s and wet July’s for the corn, and I can understand his reasoning for that – so I guess I’ll go along with that.”

But what can this year’s weather tell us about the winter months ahead? Well it depends on who you ask…or read. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been forecasting the weather for nearly two-and-a-half centuries. But, weather forecasting has come a long way since 1792 – so how do they do it?

Mary Knapp, the Assistant State Climatologist says, “They will tell you – more or less – what techniques they use to do their forecast – they don’t go into all the details because – of course – it’s proprietary. And they don’t want everybody to try and duplicate their efforts.”

So – we have no idea how they do it…that’s the problem. Anyone can guess – ‘cold and snowy’ or ‘mild and dry and those words just aren’t that meaningful.

Knapp adds, “Well if colder than normal in the west and warmer than normal in the southeast – then okay so the southeast won out. But, what you experience locally can be quite, quite different!”

Some farmers in Northeast Kansas will use the Old Farmer’s Almanac to know what to expect for the upcoming winter. It’s also helpful to their farming operations in the springtime too.

“I have read it – I don’t know if I have ever used it – just to see what their prediction is for cold spells or when it might warm up,” says Kelsey.

“We’ll use it for right sign of the moon for weaning calves or planting dates, frost dates, things of that nature. It’s definitely used out there,” adds Porubsky.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has it’s uses, but…will it be a ‘bad winter’? My money is still on a relatively dry and mild winter. I don’t see our recent weather pattern changing anytime soon. Oh, how quickly we forget the ’80s and sunshine’ in November.

– KSNT Storm Track Meteorologist Kyle Borchert

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