Almanac predicts snowy winter ahead for Hanover

by Gus Lûbin | 11/5/04 6:00am

Get out your mittens, but leave the parka at home because it's going to be a snowy, yet mild winter.

Like Ohio on Tuesday, it may be too early to call. But most of the select few with the nerves to make long-term weather predictions agree: Dartmouth is going to enjoy mild temperatures and a snow-covered Green.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, which bases its annual predictions on a secret mixture of climatology, meteorology and gut instinct, predicted that the first snow showers will hit New England between Nov. 12 and 16.

The almanac forecasts heavy rain or snow -- depending on the temperature -- for late fall as well as a sunny and white Christmas. Early January is supposed to be very cold, but the rest of the winter should be mild overall. Serious snows are predicted to last from early January until the onset of a final set of flurries in the beginning of April.

The Old Farmer's Almanac is traditionally 80 percent accurate with its predictions, although its record has slipped to about 70 percent recently.

"The past two years have been wacky, and we're the first to admit our predictions have been a bit off," said Almanac copy editor and Dartmouth alum Jack Burnett '71.

"But we've also spent a lot of time and money analyzing where we've been off to try to fine tune our predictions."

Harris' Farmer's Almanac and The Farmer's Almanac made similar predictions, but the former added that New Englanders should expect a particularly windy winter with heavy snow in January.

The Farmer's Almanac predicted a cold spell with wet snow sometime between Nov. 8 and Nov. 11.

It forecasted cold temperatures from now until early January and mild temperatures for the rest of the winter.

Like its competitor, The Old Farmer's Almanac, The Farmer's Almanac predicted a lot of snow, stepping up its level of precision by specifying a heavy blizzard on Feb. 8.

Earth science professor James Aronson said the mild winter is a likely effect of global warming.

"Anthropogenic greenhouse warming is increasing the odds that northern hemisphere winters are going to be milder," said Aronson.

Aronson noted, however, that broad trends can't always accurately predict the weather in a given place and time. He said he is glad that an element of mystery remains.

"It is humbling that we do not understand the 'stirred pot' we call the weather well enough to make accurate predictions out greater than two weeks."

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