Almanacs Split on Winter Forecast; Weather Watch Warming Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

We may freeze - or maybe roast in the next year. Opinions are running hot and cold among weather prognosticators for the almanacs.

The Farmers' Almanac announced yesterday that a fierce winter looms for many. The Old Farmer's Almanac, however, predicts the nation will wallow in record-setting temperatures.

Punxsutawney Phil could not be reached for comment.

"These predictions are a tradition in America. Weather is something we all have in common. We love hearing about it, and we love to talk about it," said Brian Wimer, senior meteorologist for Accuweather, which provides information to news organizations, government and industry sources.

Indeed, many of us are obsessed by our daily weather fix. In the past two decades, only news of war and terrorism has eclipsed our interest in weather news, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Wednesday.

"People also really love it when weather forecasts are wrong," Mr. Wimer said. "That's part of it. When forecasters make mistakes, we try not to take it personally. We learn from it. Unexpected things happen in this field. Besides, there's always new weather and a new forecast tomorrow."

Right or wrong, the opposing almanacs are adamant about their predictions, and both claim their forecasts are 80 percent to 85 percent accurate.

"We do feel overall that Mother Nature is showing no mercy in the East, and being a little more forgiving in the West," said Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers' Almanac, founded in Maine in 1818. …