Here's a weather prediction that — whether we believe it or not — calls for a shovel.
The Farmers' Almanac, an annual American periodical in publication since 1818, is predicting a snowy and cold winter, which, if true, means if you don't have a blower, you'll be breaking your back scraping snow off your sidewalk.
The almanac urges: "Get ready to 'shake, shiver, and shovel!' " And it offers an "unreasonably cold, snowy" forecast, especially in January, for the Great Lakes region.
But then again, last year, the almanac said winter was going to be a "positively bone-chilling, below-average temperatures," and the year before that the periodical forecast "cold and snow."
See a pattern here?
If you are looking for scientific confirmation of this prediction, the National Weather Service will tell you it focuses on more near-term forecasts — less than seven days out, meteorologist Sara Schultz said.
Would she make an informed guess at this winter's weather?
"Nooo!" she said. "That kind of prediction is super hard. Weather is very fluid and there are so many factors that can change. You're dealing with La Niña, El Niño, elements and things like that."
Climatologists, she explained, offer longer-term outlooks.
The almanac doesn't hesitate to issue pronouncements.
"Got flannel? Hot chocolate? Snowshoes?" it asks. "It’s time to stock up! According to our extended forecasts, this winter season will have plenty of snow, rain, and mush — as well as some record-breaking cold temperatures!"
It warns: "The first bite of winter should come earlier than last year’s. December 2022 looks stormy and cold nationwide with an active storm pattern developing and hanging around for most of the season over the eastern half of the country."
In the Great Lakes region, residents should expect an unreasonably cold and snowy winter, according to the prediction.
And it even offers an aside: "Maybe there will be a white Christmas in some areas?"
The key word being "maybe."
The almanac has said it forecasts weather "using a carefully guarded formula," and its methods include "comparing solar patterns and historical weather conditions with current solar activity."
Some skeptics say that sounds like a bunch of bull.
In fairness, the almanac is full of all kinds of information. Users swear by it.
And it acknowledges: "neither we nor any other forecasters have as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict the weather with total accuracy," and qualifies that "our results are often very close to our traditional claim of 80 percent."
If true, 80% isn't a bad track record.
But, let's be honest, $7.99 to predict that Michigan's winter is likely going to result in cold and snow? In Michigan, that's what winter is: cold, snow — and an excuse to buy a new coat and sip hot chocolate until spring.
"It's the Midwest," Schultz said. "We're going to get cold, and we're going to get snow."
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Farmers' Almanac predicts Michigan winter with plenty of snow, cold