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Environment Canada poking fun at Old Farmer’s Almanac, denies almanac accuracy rate

Ron Walter writes about The Old Farmer's Almanac and its predictions
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has come in for some criticism by representatives of the more scientifically-oriented Environment Canada.

Senior climatologist David Phillips, the public relations face and voice of Environment Canada, poked fun at the non-scientific methods used by the The Old Farmer’s Almanac in preparing the long-range forecast.

“It blows it out of the water in terms of any credibility,” he told, CBC earlier this fall.

“Talk about moon phases and sunspots? I mean, moon phases? I always say to people that Halifax has the same moon phases as Vancouver, but my God, the weather can be totally different.”

According to Phillips, climatologists examine a slew of data from water temperatures in oceans around the world, ice conditions and land conditions, as well as the current season. 

“They (the almanac) came out with their forecast now, but they had to prepare it probably eight months ago because of publication dates,” Phillips said.

“So when you think about the fact that we can’t even get it right tomorrow, and then when you’re trying to get it right a year and a half in advance, it just really is the joke it is. I mean, they could be right by the law of averages, but there’s just no science into it.”

Funny thing this weather forecasting.

Environment Canada has about 70 per cent accuracy in its extended seven-day forecasts. According to its website, a random guess would be accurate 30 per cent of the time.

The 2020 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac claims regional forecasts had 71.4 per cent accuracy in 2019. Where the .4 per cent came from or why it was even used instead of rounding down is surprising and confusing.

So just how did the Almanac’s non-scientific methods do last year?

The prediction of above normal snowfall and winter temperature in Western Canada was only partly correct.

The cool and dry April-May forecast was right on as were rain predictions for June.

The hot summer was partly true and the double the normal precipitation for September was accurate although below normal October rain was out by a lot.

For the year from November 2019 to the end of October 2020, the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts slightly warmer temperatures than normal with above normal precipitations.

November is supposed to be three degrees above normal with one-third less rain and snow than usual.

December should be six degrees above average with 40 per cent more precipitation.

A colder January and February with almost double the usual precipitation is an almanac prediction.

March and April will be cooler with almost twice as much rain and snow. Seeding should be better with a slightly warmer May and average rainfall.

June will be a bit above average temperature and average precipitation while July should be slightly warmer with half as much rain. August should be a little cooler with average rain.

A warm September and October with average precipitation will help the harvest.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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