Snow falls in Tarrant County
Remember the “Icemaggedon“ storm of 2013 that left all of North Texas covered in a wintry gridlock?
If you believe the 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac, founded in 1792, we could be in for the sequel.
The almanac, which claims an accuracy rate close to 80 percent, predicts a cold and snowy winter, with the coldest weather in Texas running from “late November into early December” and the “snowiest periods in late December and early to mid-February.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, the agency that comes up with long-range weather outlooks, is predicting almost the opposite.
Its outlook calls for a warmer-than-normal winter with less than normal precipitation. The long-range forecasts for winter have changed over the last couple of months, said state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
“Originally, a few months ago we thought an El Niño might develop,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Possibly the Farmer’s Almanac was looking at that at print time and conditions have changed since then. Of course, no one knows their methodology. It’s a secret.”
When an El Niño develops off the Pacific Coast, Texas tends to have cooler and wetter winters than normal. When its sister weather pattern, a La Niña, forms, Texas tends to have warmer, drier winters.
“There’s a definite possibility that we might have a La Niña — or something close it — develop this winter,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
Of course, the Super Bowl storm of 2011 came in what was otherwise a warm winter.
“All it takes is one big event to change everybody’s outlook about what kind of winter we had,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Huckaby in a 2016 interview.
The almanac captured attention this year for correctly predicting a major hurricane (Irma) along the Atlantic coast, but it did not predict a Gulf Coast storm similar to Hurricane Harvey.
Has the state climatologist ever looked at the almanac? Once, 30 years ago.
What did he think?
“Hmm,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Interesting.”