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Long Term Weather Forecasting Unreliable

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Famous for its weather forecasts, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has published its predictions for the coming year—but don’t believe everything you read.  The folksy pocket-sized magazine has been a regular go-to for farmers and other fans during fall harvest season since it first began publishing in 1792. As cosy and comforting as pumpkin pie, it offers everything from home remedies to food recipes, but the long-range weather predictions that fill many of its pages are nothing but pure guesswork, said a University of Alberta weather modeling expert.  It’s tempting to want to plan ahead, especially for those who depend on good weather to make a living, but it’s not realistic to rely on sources that offer long-term predictions, said Gerhard Reuter, a professor in the Faculty of Science who uses the almanac as a teaching tool in some of his classes.  “I understand that people want to have the weather a year in advance so they can see if it will rain on their June wedding day, but that information is not reliable. It’s great for entertainment value, but it’s a bad example for how things should be done scientifically. I have nothing against the almanac, but it’s a good example of what constitutes a non-professional focus in forecasting weather,” he said.

From University of Alberta  Photo John Vlahakis

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