Despite a warmer than average start to fall across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the 2020 editions of Farmers’ Almanac and The Old Farmer’s Almanac both predicted frigid temperatures and plenty of snow for a majority of the United States during the 2019-2020 winter season. So far, that’s turning out to be true.
Between Veterans Day and November 14, an arctic blast broke more than 400 cold records for that month throughout the eastern and central United States. On November 12 alone, the National Weather Service recorded around 120 daily record lows in the United States.
And now CNN is reporting that two big storms could snarl Thanksgiving travel next week. Right now, a snowstorm is forecast to hit the Midwest late Tuesday and into Wednesday, which AAA says will be the peak driving time for the 49.3 million Americans hitting the road. Over in California, heavy rains are expected late Wednesday with snow predicted for the Sierras on Thanksgiving day. (Here’s where you can already go skiing now in the United States.)
What the rest of winter 2019–2020 will be like
As for the rest of the winter season, the 201-year-old Farmers’ Almanac guide says everywhere east of the Rockies in the United States can expect “freezing, frigid, and frosty” weather. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which was founded in 1792, released a similar forecast predicting “snowy, icy, and icky” conditions in the Midwest, “wet and wild” periods in the Northeast, and “a parade of snowstorms” in the Northern Plains.
“We expect yet another wild ride this winter, with extreme temperatures swings and some hefty snowfalls,” says Pete Geiger, editor of Farmers’ Almanac.
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Unfortunately for those who experienced Chicago’s record-breaking winter last year, Farmers’ Almanac says the coldest weather in winter 2019–2020 is predicted to land in late January near the Great Lakes and into the Northern Plains, with temperatures dropping down to -40°F in the Plains.
But along with those particularly chilly temps, winter precipitation is expected to be above normal in the eastern two-thirds of the United States. That means lots of snow and great news for skiers, especially in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.
How accurate are the Farmers’ Almanac and The Old Farmer’s Almanac?
The editors of Farmers’ Almanac claim that their weather predictions are 80 to 85 percent accurate and are derived from a “specific and reliable set of rules that were developed back in 1818 by David Young, the Almanac’s first editor.” Over the years, those rules have been altered and adapted into a more mathematical and astronomical formula, determined by the moon’s tidal action and sunspot activity, or the magnetic storms on the sun’s surface. The Old Farmer’s Almanac uses similar methods dating back to 1792.
Because any weather forecast is subject to change, it’s best to take these long-range predictions with a grain of salt since many meteorologists are skeptical about the way both almanacs provide blanket statements about the weather for entire seasons.
But considering how similar these two reports are, and how cold November has been so far in 2019, it can’t hurt to be prepared and buy any winter travel gear you need before the worst weather arrives.
This article originally appeared online on August 27, 2019; it was updated on November 22, 2019, to include current information. Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. We may earn a commission if you buy through our links.
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Lyndsey Matthews Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.