Mark Bennett: “Season of the chills” or “rocking” of extremes? Winter ahead is a mystery, so far | News chronicles

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The mystery of the coming winter weather seems blissful at this time.

Not necessarily the weather itself. Just his element of surprise.

The omniscience of digital technology tends to tear the assumptions out of everyday life. There are positives to the depth and speed of the puzzles instantly solved on our cell phone and computer screens, of course, like the alerts of severe storms and road closures.






Mark Bennett




Still, the idea of ​​envisioning the twists and turns of three winter months – months in advance – sounds like a Ouija board exercise. And it’s good.

With the end of summer arriving on Tuesday, it is also the season for winter forecasting. Snowpack, wind chill factors, and icy roads don’t seem as much of a concern when it’s still too hot for jackets and sweatshirts. Moreover, venerable prognosticators – The Old Farmer’s Almanac, rival Farmers’ Almanac (yes, they even disagree on the placement of their apostrophes) and the National Weather Service – see the approaching winter of 2021-2022 differently. . So the mystery abounds.

Parkas could be in demand in the Terre Haute region, at least from The Old Farmer’s Almanac outlook. The periodical predicts that “the winter will be colder and drier than normal” in the region which includes Terre Haute and its surrounding communities. Temperatures will be below average in November (5 degrees), December (4 degrees), January (7 degrees), before a relatively warm February (2 degrees warmer than average).

Old Farmer’s Almanac describes this coming winter as “a season of chills”.

Some people probably stopped reading with this news. However, winter isn’t just about thermometer readings. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also predicts below-average precipitation levels in November (1.5 inches less), December (1.5 inches less), January (1 inch less) and February (1 inch less). less).

Of course, that doesn’t mean no snow. “You’ll always need a shovel,” said Sarah Perreault, editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. In fact, the magazine predicts snowfall every month from November to March. That includes the “snowy periods” of March 10-17 – yes, right in the middle of the Indiana Boys’ High School basketball tournament.

Terre Haute is at the lower edge of regions 6 of the almanac. His map shows “cold and snowy” weather for region 7, just south of Terre Haute.

Perreault is in his 18th year at Old Farmer’s Almanac, which promotes itself as “the oldest continuously published periodical in North America”. Robert B. Thomas founded the magazine in 1792, and his serious face always appears on its cover along with a serene Benjamin Franklin, whose genre “Poor Richard’s Almanac” inspired. Its main themes are gardening, astronomy, folklore, certain sports and, above all, weather forecasting. It also contains original trends and tips such as “how to eliminate a dog” and the best days to start connecting or quitting, depending on the phases of the moon. The latest edition, the 230th, also features the story “Remains to be Seen”. It details the preserved bodies – from Roy Rogers’ Trigger horse to Vladimir Lenin – on display to the public.

“We want to educate you,” Perreault said, “but we want to keep you entertained at the same time.” She spoke by phone last week from Dublin, New Hampshire, where The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its publisher, Yankee Publishing, are the heart of the city of 1,500. “There’s not much else going on around Dublin,” Perreault said.

In the midst of this loneliness, the craft makes long-range weather forecasts based on Thomas’ formula of solar activity (like sunspots), climatology (weather patterns), and meteorology (the atmosphere ), as well as modern technology. It also takes into account climate change. “So it’s the old married to the new,” Perreault said, “and it seems to be working. “

The almanac claims an accuracy rate of 80 to 85%. This has been questioned by climatologists over the years. A 2012 NPR report suggested that the accuracy of the almanac could be half of its charged rate. The almanac calculated its accuracy for last winter’s forecast at 75%.

Its rival, the Farmers’ Almanac, says its seasonal weather forecast also hits the mark 80 to 85 percent of the time. Its accuracy rate has also been questioned by climatologists.

“We’re not 100% accurate, but who is? Editor Sandi Duncan said by phone Wednesday.

This periodical has been published annually since 1818 from its headquarters in Lewiston, Maine, where poet, professor, and astronomer David Young founded it, along with publisher Jacob Mann. Its winter forecast for 2021-2022 calls for a “frosty shift” season, with large variations from month to month.

The Wabash Valley can expect snowstorms in late January and late February. Otherwise, “we’re not seeing anything too extreme when it comes to snow or chills,” Duncan said of west-central Indiana and east-central Illinois.

Farmers’ Almanac uses a “proprietary mathematical and astronomical formula, which is based on sunspot activity, tidal action, planet position, astrology and many other factors”. Climate change is not one of those “other factors”, at least not yet, Duncan.

“At the moment, we haven’t changed the way we do our weather forecasting, even though some extreme things are going on,” Duncan said.

The final say on the coming winter will go to the National Weather Service. Its official winter forecast will be released on October 21. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – which oversees the National Weather Service – has long-range forecasts on maps through its Climate Prediction Center.

These maps show a 50 to 50 chance of above normal temperature and precipitation from December to February. NOAA also has forecasts for the coming year, as Lauren Gaches, NOAA public affairs spokesperson, pointed out. “The competence of these perspectives is continuously refined over time,” she added.

Until then, we’ll have to face a little mystery.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or [email protected]

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