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Traditional Forecast Methods Put to the Test in Old Farmer's Almanac

"Wet...you bet!"

Those were the words from Jack Burnett, Managing Editor of the Old Farmer's Almanac back in June of this year when discussing the summer forecast for the southern half of Saskatchewan.

With a near province-wide drought, it doesn't take a weatherman to see the accuracy issue with that particular forecast.

Speaking with Rob Carnie from 800CHAB in Moose Jaw earlier in September, Burnett summed it up best:

"When we do our forecast, we do it for the whole season. Sometimes we're wrong. 1 out of 5 times at least we're just plain wrong. But other times we kind of have to say to people 'just be a little patient because there's still 10 weeks to go or 2 weeks to go'".

For some parts of the south certainly, that seemed to hold out, as late August would see decent rainfall in the Moose Jaw area. But farther southwest, closer to home, anyone who was betting on wet would have come up dry.

Despite the somewhat obscure metrics employed by the Old Farmer's Almanac since 1792, it's actually boasted a fairly consistent 80 percent accuracy rate. But Burnett says that they had noticed that that rate had started to drop and wanted to do something about it before it became too late.

"Starting about 8 or 9 years ago our traditional around 80 percent accuracy; we started being 72 percent, 73 percent. And so if our ways of doing things were starting to go off the rails we wanted to be the first to know, not the last."

Burnett explained that the group's meteorologists started on a test project about four years ago to tweak their algorithms in an attempt to find a way to keep using their old ways, but adjusted a little bit to bring it in line with the reality of climate change. That four-year project resulted in an accuracy result of roughly 78.5 percent in last year's Almanac, and he's hoping for a similar result or better this year to get back to their 80 percent average.

The 2022 Almanac was released in September and is available on store shelves everywhere.

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