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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts ‘super-cold’ winter will turn US into ‘refriger-nation’

CONCORD – The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation.

The New Hampshire-based almanac, published Wednesday, predicts a “super-cold” winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal. ...

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CONCORD – The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation.

The New Hampshire-based almanac, published Wednesday, predicts a “super-cold” winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal.

“Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” editor Janice Stillman said. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”

More bad news for those who can’t stand snow: Most of the Northeast is expected to get more snowfall than normal, although it will be below normal in New England.

Before unpacking the parka, however, remember that “colder than average” is still only about 2-5 degrees difference.

Some other regional highlights:

Florida’s winter could be rainier than most years, while other locales in the Southeast and central states will see less rain.

Summer will be warmer than usual in most places, while a drop in rainfall in the country’s midsection could hurt crop yields.

Despite some winter downpours in the West, the almanac says California’s drought will likely continue.

Hurricane season isn’t expected to be especially active, although a major storm could hit the Gulf Coast in late August.

For loyal readers of an almanac that also tracks to the minute every sunrise and sunset for the year, the timing of this year’s publication may come as a surprise. Normally, it hits the stands in mid-September. In recent years, its younger cousin, the Maine-based Farmer’s Almanac, has published in August, and a competition, of sorts, has emerged, although Stillman said it had nothing to do with the earlier drop date.

“We’ve found that folks want the almanac as soon as the issue is done up, right as the growing season is done,” she said. “It’s also time to order oil, wood, salt for roads. We’ve had so many inquiries, we just decided to get it into people’s hands earlier.”

The almanac, which has about an 80 percent success rate in its forecasts, employs modern technology but still uses the “secret formula” that founder Robert Thomas devised in 1792.

By combining the study of sunspots, prevailing weather patterns and basic meteorology, the almanac’s weather staff comes up with a long-range forecast. The temperature deviations are based on 30-year averages compiled by government forecasters.

The almanac also provides advice on planting, astronomy, food, love and trends.