There was one person who predicted this devastating winter. It was not a representative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, the Weather Channel or even the scores of broadcasters spewing out local forecasts. It was Caleb Weatherbee of the Farmers’ Almanac.
Caleb Weatherbee is a pseuodonym, and his (or her) formula is a closely-guarded secret of the Almanac. But there is little to deny the accuracy of Weatherbee’s winter forecast from August 24, 2014.
“[T]he winter of 2014–15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation. A large zone of very cold temperatures will be found from east of the Continental Divide east to the Appalachians. The most frigid temperatures will be found from the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes. The coldest outbreak of the season will come during the final week of January into the beginning of February, when frigid arctic air drops temperatures across the Northern Plains to perhaps 40 below zero. As the frigid air blows across the Great Lakes, snow showers and squalls will drop heavy amounts of snow to the lee of the Lakes.
“No region will see prolonged spells of above-normal temperatures; only near the West and East Coasts will temperatures average close to normal.”
The publication’s managing editor, Sandi Duncan, refused to give the Beast the exact details of the formula Caleb Weatherbee uses, saying even she does not know the specifics.
“It is an old, old formula that dates back to when the ‘Almanac’ was first founded back in 1818, it’s a mathematical and astronomical formula. It takes things like sun spot activity, position of the moon, the phase of the moon, and a variety of other factors into consideration.”
She’s also coy about Weatherbee’s identity, except for confirming he lives in the U.S. and is the seventh person to hold the position in the Almanac’s history.
Although the Almanac is nearly two centuries old, a separate publication, the Old Farmers’ Almanac, is even older and remains in circulation.
Pete Geiger, owner of the Farmers’ Almanac, told the Christian Science Monitor earlier this month the predictions are made two years in advance.
“Last winter the whole winter went exactly as we predicted it to go. Our forecasting is a bride’s best friend because where else can you go more than a year-out to get a forecast that’s 80-85 percent accurate.”