There’s no mention of the term “polar vortex” in the 2015 Farmers’ Almanac forecast for September – or any other time during the upcoming winter.
But don’t let that fool you. You may want to have a heavier jacket ready in the closet, just the same.
Polar vortex emerged as a “fashionable” phrase last winter, said Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, which released its annual edition Monday. “We do talk about it being very cold at the beginning of September this year – even record cold,” he said.
No meteorological buzz phrases for the venerable publication, which has been around since 1818. But that doesn’t change the outlook.
“Cold by any other name is still cold,” Geiger said. “This year, we’re using the term ‘shivery and shovelry.’ ”
AccuWeather.com, a Pennsylvania-based weather forecasting service, caused a flurry of consternation earlier this month when it predicted that the polar vortex – the extremely cold air that swirls above the North Pole – may make a brief visit to the Great Lakes and Northeast in mid to late September.
The Farmers’ Almanac concurs on the possibility of unseasonably chilly temperatures in September; just the timing is different. It has the cold air arriving as early as next week.
The Northeast region of the country, which includes New York, is looking at potentially record cold temperatures for Labor Day, with unseasonably chilly temperatures lingering through almost the second week of the month.
A frost may occur the first week in October in New England, and the S-word debuts in the November monthly forecast.
For those who scoff at the accuracy of the Farmers’ Almanac, Geiger has some fighting words:
“I definitely was accurate last year; I was pretty much spot-on,” he said.
The Almanac takes a good-natured jab at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, which, in October 2013, predicted above-normal temperatures from November 2013 through January 2014 across much of the continental United States.
Meanwhile, the Almanac’s forecast, developed two years earlier, employed the words “piercing,” “biting,” “bitterly” and “frosty.”
“We told you so!” trumpets the first line of this year’s Weather Review and Outlooks.
“Weather is weather, and everybody does it differently,” said Geiger.
Developing a forecast so far in advance was necessary in the early days of printing and has stuck around, Geiger said. Nowadays, you also can access the forecast at http://farmersalmanac.com.
The forecaster for the publication based in Lewiston, Maine, is a person who goes by the pseudonym Caleb Weatherbee and uses a secret formula that was developed in the 1800s. Sunspot activity, moon phases and tidal action are among the data taken into consideration.
The current person – the seventh in the Almanac’s almost 200-year history – has been at it three decades, according to Geiger.
“I think there’s some consistency – that helps,” he said.
Though weather is the subject that gets people talking, Geiger said the Almanac offers much more.
“The real purpose of an almanac – any almanac – was to be a guide to good living; what to do, how to do it,” Geiger explained. In this year’s edition, for example, there’s advice on dental hygiene and how to ease a dog’s fear of thunder and fireworks.
But the conversation inevitably returns to the weather.
“It’s obviously going to be a cold winter,” said Geiger.
“I would impress the fact that it’s going to be particularly active during January, during February,” he said. “There are certainly several substantial storms.
“I would hunker down for a good, solid winter.”