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Get ready: It’s going to be a cold and snowy winter, forecasters say

The farmers have spoken: It’s going to be a cold and snowy winter for many in Minnesota.

The Farmers’ Almanac and its elder counterpart The Old Farmer’s Almanac have released their predictions for this winter. (Yes, there are two different almanacs named after farmers that released winter forecasts this week.)

And for winter-weary Minnesotans, it may not be the best news.

Grab your parka

The Farmers’ Almanac – which bases its forecast on sunspots, tidal action, and the position of the planets, among other things – thinks we’ll see average snowfall in Minnesota.

But it’ll be cold – especially in February.

The 200th anniversary edition of the almanac says frigid temperatures are expected, and northern tier states could see “ambient air temperatures” as low as 40-below. Brr.

The average mean temperature for the Twin Cities in December is 19.7, 15.6 in January and 20.8 in February.

There could be more snow, too

The Old Farmer’s Almanac uses a “secret formula” to come up with its forecast, and this year it says it’ll be cold and snowy for many of us.

From North Dakota to Maine, the 225th edition of the almanac says there will be below-normal temperatures, while much of the rest of the country will see cold, but still above-average temps this winter.

And for the snow – it’ll be considered above-average for much of central and eastern Minnesota. (The average snowfall for the Twin Cities in December is 11 inches, about a foot in January and 7.8 inches in February, according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.)

What does the NWS think?

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center also releases long-range forecasts.

In July, it predicted for December, January and February there’s a 50 percent chance temperatures will be below average for much of Minnesota. And for snow, the agency says there’s an equal chance snowfall this winter is either above average, below average or normal.

So, it’s fair to say it’s hedging its bets.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.07.07 PM

Temperature outlook for December, January and February. (Photo: National Weather Service)

So how accurate are these forecasts?

It’s not hard to predict Minnesota’s winters are going to be cold and snowy, but how accurate are these long-range forecasts?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says its forecasts are traditionally 80 percent accurate, while The Farmers’ Almanac says it has predicted a bunch of major weather events accurately over the years.

But keep in mind, meteorologists have a hard enough time predicting the weather for that week, let alone a few months in advance.

“We’re really good at the day of and the next day, (and) we’re better at temperature a ways out than precipitation. But to forecast out that far in advance … even the science behind our long-range forecasting is sometimes not that solid,” Dave Hennen, senior meteorologist and executive producer for CNN Weather says.

And remember last year’s warm-up? The Star Tribune says both almanacs missed that in its prediction, with The Farmer’s Almanac blaming the inaccurate forecast on El Nino.

For more information on Minnesota’s climate history, click here.

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