Lewiston, Maine People worried about the high cost of keeping warm this winter will draw little comfort from the Farmers' Almanac, which predicts below-average temperatures for most of the U.S.
"Numb's the word," says the 192-year-old publication, which claims an accuracy rate of 80 percent to 85 percent for its forecasts that are prepared two years in advance.
The almanac's 2009 edition, which goes on sale Tuesday, says at least two-thirds of the country can expect colder-than-average temperatures this winter, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings.
"This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said almanac editor Peter Geiger.
The almanac predicts above-normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially during January and February, and above-normal precipitation for the Southwest in December and for the Southeast in January and February. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will likely have an unusually wet or snowy February, the almanac said.
In contrast, the usually wet Pacific Northwest could be a bit drier than normal in February.
Looking ahead to summer, the almanac foresees near-normal temperatures in most places. But much of the Southwest should prepare for unusually hot weather in June and July, while Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas will get oppressive July heat and humidity.
The almanac - not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac which is 26 years older - attributes its forecasts to reclusive prognosticator Caleb Weatherbee, who uses a secret formula based on sunspots, the position of the planets and the tidal action of the moon.
Weatherbee's outlook is borne out by e-mails the almanac has received in recent days from readers who have spotted signs of nature they say point to a rough winter, Geiger said.