Farmers vs. NOAA: Forecast smackdown

Farmers vs. NOAA: Forecast smackdown


Let the long range forecasting showdown begin!

In the near corner is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center and its Atlantic hurricane season forecast.

In the far corner is The Old Farmer’s Almanac with it predictions for the New England winter of 2013-14.

It’s a bit unfair, perhaps, since hurricane season is half over. On the other hand, the Climate Prediction Center is backed by the latest in computer weather modeling computers and loads of scientists.

The Farmer’s Almanac has sunspots, acorns and fictitious forecaster Caleb Weatherbee.

Both competitors caught everyone’s attention with dire warnings.

In May, the Climate Prediction Center called for a ferocious Atlantic hurricane season — a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes, as many as half a dozen of them major.

The Almanac says winter will be nasty here — cold, stormy and plenty of snow. Watch out especially for the first ten days of February — the Super Bowl in New York could be brutal.

If New England gets so much as an early February flurry, the Almanac could win this one, so far-fetched is the hurricane prediction turning out.

Until Humberto managed a hurricane level gust far out in the eastern Atlantic on Sept. 11 (tie for the latest hurricane to show up since 1941), this season had been utterly hurricane free.

The excuses so far — Who knew that so much dry air would come off the Sahara? That Atlantic air masses would be so stable? That wind shear would be so formidable?

Forecasters’ ability to track storms once formed is vastly better than 75 years ago in 1938 when the Great Hurricane snuck up on these towns. But for all scientists’ understanding of El Ninos and La Ninas, forecasting beyond that seems about as dicey as ever.

The ten-day is adventure enough. Anything longer is mostly entertainment.


  1. Will anyone be keeping score? The writer is to be commended for the observations between NOAA and OFA. Dire forecasts bring in the readers and the ads too I would think. Grant dollars go to the most vocal.

    Long range weather forecasting has been around for hundreds of years and continues to grow in healthy directions. Forecasts have been posted every season for roughly 15 years. Currently the fall 2013 season forecast for the entire 3 months is located at a new blog at