Remember scenes such as this from Center Street in Wilkinsburg in February 2010? The Farmers' Almanac is predicting another snowy season this winter.
By Michael A. Fuoco Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The 2014 edition of the Farmers' Almanac that hit newsstands Monday offers homespun remedies, tasty recipes and a wallop of a wintry forecast that's too bone-chilling to fathom in a week with highs in the 80s.
"We don't use four-letter words but when it comes to this winter's weather the word is c-o-l-d," said managing editor Sandi Duncan. "We're predicting two-thirds of the country will have below-average temperatures for the winter season, and in some areas the temperatures will be biting and piercing."
If all that's not enough incentive to head to the grocery store right now to stock up, then choose between these poisons: The Pittsburgh region is right on the predicted dividing line of a winter that's "bitterly cold and snow filled" (north through New York and virtually all of New England) and one that's "cold, wet and white" (through West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey).
"You guys are right on the borderline," Ms. Duncan said. "It looks like it's going to be a wet winter, and more white than wet in Pittsburgh."
PG graphic: Winter 2014 outlook (Click image for larger version)
The woeful winter prediction could even morph the 2014 Super Bowl into the Super Storm Bowl. An "intense storm" predicted to hit the East Coast between Feb. 1-3 could affect Super Bowl XLVIII scheduled for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands -- the first time the Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a cold-weather clime.
"Heavy rain and snow could impact the Super Bowl, both in people getting there and watching it when they do. They'll need to pack winter and wet-weather gear," Ms. Duncan said.
Given all that, are you already longing for next summer?
Not so fast. The magazine predicts summer 2014 is going to be "oppressively humid, wet and thundery," Ms. Duncan said.
What, no Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for good measure?
"The weather has been weirder the last few years, but this is one of the more drastic forecasts that I can recall we've had," Ms. Duncan said.
The prediction by elusive forecaster "Caleb Weatherbee," a nom de plume used for years by various people, is based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula, including sunspot activity, lunar cycles, planetary position and many other factors. The Farmers' Almanac has been making weather forecasts for all of its 197 years of publication.
The Farmers' Almanac, based in Maine, should not be confused with The Old Farmer's Almanac, based in New Hampshire, which will be on book stands next month. The Old Farmer's Almanac, published since 1792, comes up with its weather forecasts through the study of sunspots and other solar activity; climatology, the study of historic weather patterns; and meteorology, the study of the atmosphere. In addition to their well-publicized weather forecasts, both magazines contain articles, tips, recipes, humor and better-living advice.
Ms. Duncan said her magazine believes it has between an 80 and 85 percent accuracy rate for its weather predictions.
But fear not, there's another prognosticator with a more bearable weather forecast. The National Weather Service -- using climatology, large-scale atmospheric patterns and the potential effects of El Nino and La Nina -- has a long-range prediction of, on average, a milder than normal winter with about normal precipitation for our area.
Unlike the Farmers' Almanac, which provides specific predictions, the weather service forecasts more general average temperatures and precipitation as they compare to historical data.
"As with most predictions, the longer you go out, the less likely you are to have any significant degree of accuracy," said weather service meteorologist Lee Hendricks. "These outlooks aren't that bad as long as you don't try to read too much into them. They're averages so during that time you could get a week that's rather ruinous."
If this does prove to be a winter of our discontent, the Farmers' Almanac does offer a way to soften the blow -- a cure for dry, winter skin by using mashed bananas, olive oil and potatoes.
Get some when you're stocking up on milk, bread and toilet paper.