Almanac weather predictions are not science

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People love to joke about weather forecasting, but we live in a time when the scientific prediction of the weather is remarkably accurate -- especially considering the variability of the phenomenon. This is due to excellent data collection, improved atmospheric models and increased computer power. Despite that, no credible meteorologist would be willing to issue a detailed forecast for a narrow region nearly six months in advance.

So it distresses me to see a front-page story ("Almanacs Confirm It: Winter Is Coming," Sept. 18) that treats the predictions of two different farmers almanacs as if they are valid science. Both the Old Farmer's Almanac and the Farmers' Almanac claim to have secret formulas that have been updated to reflect modern meteorological data collection. But by keeping their calculations secret and not providing margins of error in temperature, humidity or date, they offer scientists no way to evaluate their results or to attempt to replicate their predictions, including the highly touted forecast for the Super Bowl, which will be played outdoors in New Jersey on Groundhog Day.

Simply put: Those limitations remove the predictions from the realm of science. Many people will counter that those predictions are really all in fun. I'm known for my sense of humor, and I'd be willing to laugh, too, if the PG did not treat them so seriously.

ALFRED B. (FRED) BORTZ
Monroeville


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