AMHERST – If you’re a fan of snow, this may not be your year. That’s if the 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac is right with its predictions for the upcoming winter.
The almanac is predicting a rainier than normal winter with slightly above normal temperatures and near to below normal snowfall for the winter of 2017-18.
“I hate to use the term warm, but it’s going to be slightly warmer. It’s only two-tenths of a degree so it may seem negligible, but when our machine spits out its formula every 10th of a degree counts,” almanac managing editor Jack Burnett said from his office in Dublin, N.H. “It’s not going to be as cold and there’s going to be more rain, wetter rather than wetter.”
Of course, he said, that doesn’t mean there won’t be snow, or some colder snaps.
The almanac is predicting the coldest periods to be in late December and early January and the snowiest periods to be in late December and early to mid-February.
That could translate into a white Christmas in much of the Maritimes.
He said the almanac is suggesting a warmer and wetter January setting up for the classic thaw that sometimes comes to the Maritimes immediately after the New Year.
Incidentally, the almanac is calling for a wet spring and warmer, and wetter, summer in 2018.
Another prediction is a possible tropical storm in late September.
The almanac suggests its forecasts are 80 per cent accurate. It derives its forecast from a secret formula devised by founder Robert B. Thomas in 1792. He believed the weather is influenced by sunspots.
Burnett said the almanac is constantly analyzing weather trends and statistics over time, although he admitted making predictions during a time of possible global warming can be a challenge.
He said the almanac is in the second or third year of trying to incorporate warming into its forecasting methods. A little bit of this has been done with the 2018 forecast.
For its part, U.S. forecaster AccuWeather is predicting near normal snowfall in the Maritimes and above normal temperatures with near normal overall precipitation.
It’s forecasting a weak La Nina in the equatorial Pacific while warmer-than-normal waters off Atlantic Canada during the winter will modify temperatures with more cloud and fog.
Senior climatologist David Phillips said Environment Canada’s winter forecast isn’t released until early December, but preliminary models are also suggesting a mild winter. However, there will be periods when it will feel like winter.
“The preliminary models are suggesting this winter will be much like last winter, but over all it will be milder than normal,” Phillips said. “Still, we’re not saying winter is going to be cancelled or we’re not going to have winter here because there will be periods when it will definitely feel like winter. It’s just that it’s not going to be a brutal winter.”
Last year, temperatures were milder than normal overall with normal December and warmer than normal January and February while March was colder than normal.
“My sense is there will be something for everyone,” he said. “There will be snow, but it may be coming and going throughout the winter.”