"Is this the year you should splurge on a snow blower?"
If you did it last year on the advice of the Farmers' Almanac, take heart the publication says, you'll get your chance to use it this year.
No, really. They mean it this time.
"Return of the Ice Cold Winter!" is the almanac's grand pronouncement for 2016-17.
Chalk the winter of 2015-16 up as a big win for the conventional meteorologists.
Forecasters from AccuWeather and the National Weather Service use global weather patterns and computer modeling to make long-range seasonal forecasts.
Last year, both predicted less snow and an unusually warm winter because of a strong El Niño in place.
In Buffalo, 55.1 inches of snow fell all season, more than 40 inches less than normal. December 2015 was the warmest December ever, and monthly temperatures ran above average for November through March.
The Farmers’ Almanac, which employs math and astronomy to make their prognostications based on sunspot activity, tidal data and planet positioning in the solar system, whiffed when it called for “a winter déjà vu" of snowy and cold conditions.
And, it admitted as much in its recently published edition, which began hitting newsstands this week.
"Unfortunately for us, our 2016 winter forecasts were compiled and published before this historic El Niño reared its head," the 2017 almanac states. "And, as we had suggested in 2015, an El Niño could, and did, throw a monkey wrench in our forecast."
The Farmers' Almanac is back in the batter's box again for its 200th year, boldly calling for "(C)old Man Winter's" return in 2016-17.
"Exceptionally cold, if not downright frigid weather will predominate over parts of the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, the Middle Atlantic, Northeast and New England," the Farmers' Almanac states. "Shots of very cold weather will periodically reach down as far south as Florida and the Gulf Coast."
It added: "In contrast, milder-than-normal temperatures will prevail over the Western States."
And, there could just be another "Snowvember" in the offing, if you believe the almanac, which predicts "snow and cold conditions in mid-November in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Midwest."
The exceptionally cold temperatures won't flex an icy fist until later in the season, it states.
A "mixed bag of winter weather" for December and January is on tap before another "downright frigid February," according to the Farmers' Almanac.
"This is the month you want to make sure your heat works, your long johns are washed, and your slippers are nearby."
Winter of 2015-16: Ta-da! Buffalo area's winter forecast is upbeat (but 'a little tricky')
Winter of 2013-14: Farmers' Almanac predicts cold, snowy winter for Western New York
Winter of 2012-13: Could be a snowy, cold winter or maybe a little warmer than normal