AMHERST, N.S. – Don’t put that snow shovel too far away this winter.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is suggesting it could be a cold and snowy winter in most of the Maritimes.
“The Maritimes are sort of split, but we’re looking at snowier than normal across the board,” the almanac’s managing editor Jack Burnett told the Amherst News. “In Newfoundland, it’s going to be milder, but in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. it’s going to be a little bit colder than normal.”
The almanac suggests temperatures will be above normal, on average, with the coldest periods in late December, early to mid-January and early to mid-February. Precipitation will be below normal in the northeast part of the Atlantic region and above normal in the southwest.
Burnett said the almanac is suggesting the snowiest periods will be mid to late January, mid-February and early March.
“It’s kind of focused in January and February, so it’s kind of like an old-time winter,” Burnett said.
Burnett while there will be snow and periods of cold weather, he stopped short of calling it another case of a T-Rex winter.
The SaltWire Network’s chief meteorologist Cindy Day thinks the almanac is on to something when it comes to this winter’s forecast.
“I’m on the same track they are. We’re going to get a little bit more snow than we normally do,” Day said. “I don’t think it’s going to be extremely cold, but we’ll have near or slightly below normal temperatures and a little more snowfall than we’re used to in a typical winter.”
She said Nova Scotia will be on the edge of an active storm track off the coast, but said a wobble one way or another can make the difference between rain or snow.
She said the weather will be influenced by what’s expected to be a weak to moderate El Nino that will see a bubble of precipitation that will track off the eastern seaboard a few times during the winter.
Burnett said the almanac takes great pride in accuracy and is working to take climate change into consideration as it makes its forecasts. The organization is in the second of three years in trying to understand how the earth’s warming might impact its forecasting.
“We don't get into politics but if the ice caps are melting, they’re melting,” he said. “Our scientists have been looking for ways to tweak our 227-year-old forecasting formula to take that into account
“Over the last six or seven years the weather has been so wacky that we’ve spent a lot of time and money tracking how well we do all across Canada and the United States. We analyzed something like 20,000 factoids of temperature and precipitation because if our way of doing things is beginning to go a little off the rails we want to be the first to know and not the last.”
Some of those tweaks have been incorporated into the 2019 almanac.
Burnett said the almanac’s accuracy rate is usually 80 per cent, but there have been years when they were off. The last two or three years, however, have been pretty close to where it wants to be. Last year, Burnett said, the almanac was 79 per cent accurate with the temperature forecast 71 per cent accurate (missing only in the Prairies and the Yukon), the precipitation forecast 86 per cent (missing only in southern Ontario) and the snowfall forecast being correct in most of Canada with less snow than forecast in the northern Prairies and British Columbia and more than expected in Northwest Territories.
Looking ahead the spring is expected to be cooler and drier than normal and summer will be slightly cooler and drier than normal.
The almanac derives its forecast from a secret formula devised by founder Robert B. Thomas in 1792. He believed the weather is influenced by sunspots.