FARMERS' Almanac: Another 'old-fashioned' winter is on tap

Sunday, August 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) _ Those who remember jammed airports, slippery sidewalks, potholes and mounds of snow last winter won't like what the latest Farmers' Almanac has to say about the coming winter.

With no El Nino or La Nina to botch up the forecast, the almanac's secret formula projects another ``old-fashioned'' winter, with heaps of snow beginning in late November.

``According to our time-tested formula, winter will begin early,'' chief weather prognosticator Caleb Weatherbee writes in the almanac that goes on sale Tuesday. ``We also expect another very active winter weather pattern, especially in the Northeast.''

The almanac says its long-term predictions _ based on a secret formula involving sunspots, positions of the planets and tidal action _ are correct about 80 percent of the time.

The almanac, used to plan outdoor weddings, cookouts and vacations, predicted moderate weather for last winter. But the Northeast got pummeled by storm after storm.

The almanac offices in Lewiston had to shut down for a day _ something that had happened only once before.

In the new edition, the 185-year-old publication said last winter was snowier than it predicted because it was the first in several years in which there was no El Nino or La Nina _ the warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean _ to meddle with high level prevailing winds.

This winter will be much the same, said editor Peter Geiger. Climatologists call it ``La Nada.''

Geiger predicts an active winter followed by a wet summer in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Southeast. The middle of the country will be drier than usual, the almanac says.

There's a strong possibility of a white Christmas with snow between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27 in the Northeast and upper Midwest, Geiger said.

The National Weather Service contends the weather cannot be predicted with any certainty so far in advance.

``I wouldn't bet the farm on it,'' said meteorologist Augie Sardinha.