Old Farmer's Almanac forecasts snowy winter in Las Vegas

The West can another dry winter with precipitation 50-70 percent of average, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.

Along with drier weather, the Almanac predicts temperatures will be 3-5 degrees warmer than average.

In the Almanac's weather prognostications for the coming year, Carson City is located in the Rocky Mountain region along with Boise and Las Vegas.

Northern Nevada receives most of its 10.31 inches of precipitation between November and March with January and February being critical months. The Almanac calls for below-average precipitation in all five months in the north and above average in the south in February.

An unusually wet August did little to improve the overall moisture picture in Northern Nevada. As of Monday, Carson City had received 3.48 inches of moisture in the year, a little more than half of the average 6.81 inches expected by this time of year.

Editor Janice Stillman said the almanac, which is expected to move 4 million copies, has an 80 percent accuracy rating. As an example, she noted that the almanac predicted the current Western drought.

"The formula on which we devise our forecast is a secret," she said. "But our methodology is no secret. We use solar science, climatology and meteorology. We observe sun spots."

State Climatologist John James has also purchased the book, but never looks at its forecasts.

"They are ridiculous," James said. "If you make a forecast one year ahead and expect it to be accurate, forget it. It is hit and miss with the Old Farmer's Almanac. If they hit, they build it up in the public. If they miss, they deaden it."

Stillman defended the almanac's weather predictions. She noted it correctly forecast a major blizzard last winter in the Midwest.

"Folks look at the forecast skeptically, but when they see we get it right 80 percent of the time, they realize there is some method to what we do," Stillman said. "We are not just guessing with the weather."

The weather forecasts attract a lot of publicity for the Old Farmer's Almanac, but are only a small part of its contents. One finds in its 2004 edition a story on why George Washington didn't smile a lot. He was embarrassed about his bad teeth, and his false teeth always gave him a lot of pain. Quirky stories on what to do with excess zucchini and the joys of making grape jelly also are in the new edition.

The origins of almanacs go back to Benjamin Franklin and his Poor Richard's Almanac of 1733. Robert Thomas published the first of what would become the Old Farmer's Almanac in 1792. Farmers wanted planting advice, information about phases of the moon, sunrise and sunset times, the kind of information still available in the publication.


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