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Originally published August 29, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Page modified August 29, 2010 at 7:02 PM

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Farmers' Almanac predicts gentler winter

Good news, winter haters: After record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic and unusually cold weather down South last winter, the Farmers' Almanac is predicting this winter will be "kinder and gentler."

The Associated Press

LEWISTON, Maine — Good news, winter haters: After record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic and unusually cold weather down South last winter, the Farmers' Almanac is predicting this winter will be "kinder and gentler."

After eyeing the skies, tidal action and sunspots, the folks at the 194-year-old publication say in their 2011 edition on sale Monday that it'll be cold but nothing like last winter, when snow fell in every state but Hawaii and it was so cold in Florida that iguanas fell out of trees.

It'll still be colder than normal for much of the country, the almanac says, and New England will get a "cold slap in the face" after missing last winter's misery. Residents of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes are expected to get the piles of snow that'll be lacking elsewhere.

The Farmers' Almanac, which claims 80 to 85 percent accuracy and says it correctly forecast heavy snow in Middle Atlantic states last winter, bases its predictions on a secret mathematical formula using the position of the planets, tidal action of the moon and sunspots.

Ed O'Lenic, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, said the scientific community doesn't accept tides, planetary alignment and sunspots as effective predictors of temperature or precipitation. But he stopped short of calling the almanac's meteorological methods a bunch of hooey.

"In science you have to have an open mind. Someday, someone could conceivably find some scintilla of evidence that it's useful," O'Lenic said of the almanac's methodology.

For the record, the Climate Prediction Center anticipates a warmer-than-normal winter for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and colder-than-normal weather in the Northwest.

That puts it at odds with the almanac, which calls for mild temperatures in the Northwest and cold in the Southeast.

The Maine-based Farmers' Almanac is not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac. Both issue annual forecasts, with The Old Farmer's Almanac scheduled for release Sept. 7.

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