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Wintry weather on tap for Utah this fall? Don’t hold your breath

Farmers Almanac predicts snowy conditions, but climate experts expect things to be dry

Snow covers the Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch Mountains on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
Snow covers the Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch Mountains on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Some reports by national media are pointing to predictions by the Old Farmer’s Almanac that says the coming winter will be among the snowiest and coldest we’ve seen in years, even going so far to dub it as the “season of shivers.”

The 230-year publication contains all sorts of informational tidbits, including growing seasons, the phases of the moon, canning techniques and more.

Mark Struthwolf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, took the publication’s predictions in stride.

“I would love that to be true.”

Instead, climate predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration going into November predict Utah and most of the West will experience above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation — which does not immediately bode well to lift the West out of its most extreme drought in more than 100 years.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been around for a couple hundred years and was entertaining reading in the country for centuries, including an array of helpful hints for anyone keeping a close eye on the weather, the growing season and the rural way of life.

It’s been a staple at the checkout stands at farm stores, but none of the books were to be had in a few select Weber County stores Thursday.

It’s likely the 2022 edition will be released soon, offering more advice or predictions for both the novice and experienced.

Are any of these books adorning the desks of climate scientists like Struthwolf?

Uh, no.

“It is not a tool anyone in our profession would use, so nope, we never take a look at it. I think anyone who takes a look at it should take it with a grain of salt and a sense of humor.”

Struthwolf said the almanac might have “got lucky” one weekend one winter, but otherwise, it is like a roll of the dice.

Does longtime dairy farmer Ron Gibson and president of the Utah Farm Bureau have a copy parked on his kitchen counter?

He just laughed.

“I would consider that stuff about as good as going to the lady who reads your fortune.”

He added he hopes it is a wet fall and even better winter for precipitation, because it is sorely needed.

And while official long-range climate predictions can be a bit off, Struthwolf said there is always a chance Mother Nature can surprise the West — but right now he is not a betting man, nor is he betting on predictions from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“It is like a broken clock that is right twice a day.”