The end of summer in the D.C. area can mean only one thing — winter is coming. And the 2020 “Farmers’ Almanac” says it’s going to be a colder-than-usual season.
“For your neck of the woods, or the city I should say, we are saying it should be unusually cold with a fair amount of precipitation,” said Sandi Duncan, managing editor of the “Farmers’ Almanac.” “We are seeing a fluctuation of the temperature going up and down. That’s why we are calling it a ‘polar coaster.’”
The almanac is “red-flagging” the dates Jan. 4-7 and Jan. 12-15 for “big storms” in the D.C. metropolitan area, predicting a mixture of snow, gusty winds and ice. Ms. Duncan also noted that the almanac forecasts it will be “very cold” at the end of January and the beginning of February in greater Washington.
However, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center says the odds are “better than average that it will be warmer than normal” this winter, said Ray Martin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
An average winter temperature in the D.C. area is 38 degrees, Mr. Martin said, noting that the last time the area had a colder than normal winter was five years ago, when the snowfall was also below normal.
“People think more on what they remember [like whether there was a big snow storm] rather than how it feels,” the meteorologist said.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting equal chances for an average amount of precipitation this year, which is about 8 inches of rain or melted snow.
“It’s not necessary to have a cold winter to get an above normal snowfall, but the odds are in favor if we have a colder than normal winter,” Mr. Martin said.
The transition from summer to fall won’t be harsh, with a 50% chance of temperatures above the normal 71 degrees, the weather center predicts.
The “Farmers’ Almanac” uses a mathematical and astronomical formula, created in 1818 when it was founded, that takes into consideration things like sun spot activity and tidal action of the moon to make its long term weather predictions.
Ms. Duncan said the formula has changed slightly since its creation and has an 80% accuracy rate.
“We have been predicting the weather for 203 years, and we really offer a source for people looking to plan ahead, whether they are budgeting for their heating bills or planning a summer wedding,” she said.
The managing editor noted the almanac’s success in predicting last year’s winter weather across the country, especially for those living in the North.
“Last winter we feel we did pretty well because we called for a teeth-chattering cold winter, which happen in most areas of the country but more specifically in the Northern plains,” Ms. Duncan said.
To prepare for the icy winter to come, Ms. Duncan said to stock up on potatoes, baking soda and vinegar — offering a bit of old-timey advice. She said rubbing raw potatoes onto a frosty windshield helps make the ice melt faster.
“People need to keep following the weather forecast and be prepared for severe winter weather,” she said.