By Cowboy State Daily
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and one of Wyoming’s premier weather forecasters are both predicting the same thing for eastern Wyoming this winter — cold.
The 228-year-old Farmer’s Almanac, which claims an accuracy rate in long-range forecasting of up to 85 percent, is predicting a “polar coaster” in terms of winter temperatures, with the mercury dipping far below average east of the Rockies, from the Continental Divide to the Appalachians. Day agrees.
“Places like Sheridan, Buffalo, Gillette, Lusk, Torrington, they’re probably going to be the coldest parts of Wyoming this winter,” he said. “You get over to Jackson, Rock Springs and Evanston on the other side of the Divide and it’s likely going to be a more mild winter there.”
Day said typically, cold air coming down from Canada is heavy and drops to the lowest point in the landscape, which is the eastern slope of the Rockies.
“Sometimes, in patterns like we’re expecting this winter, the Rockies will keep that really cold air, most of the time, from going over to places like Jackson and Star Valley and Evanston,” he said.
As far as snow, Day said heavier snow than normal can be expected for the first half of the winter, from mid-October through January, particularly in eastern and northeastern Wyoming.
Weather forecasting can be a tricky business. The Old Farmer’s Almanac bases its predictions on a centuries-old secret formula created by its founder. The publication estimates its success rate at 80 percent to 85 percent. The University of Illinois, in a study, set the figure at closer to 52 percent.
Day said he bases his predictions on a combination of computer modeling and looking at past patterns of weather, while the National Weather Services uses only computers and does not look at past trends.
“What we have found is that the formula of mixing those two seems too give you the most accurate weather forecast,” he said. “The Farmer’s Alamanac is coming out at about 52 percent. You know what the (computer) model is at? About the same.”
Day admitted that a little experience in weather forecasting doesn’t hurt, either.
“Weather forecasting is a lot like being a pilot,” he said. “You go and get on an airplane and the captain greets you when you get on board. You like to see a captain with a little what in his hair? A little gray, right? You don’t want a fresh-faced 18-year-old flying a 747, right?