Almanack's snow forecast
The new (2006) Hagers-town Town and Country Almanack just arrived in my mailbox, with its forecast for the winter to come. The news isn't too bad if you don't like snow. The "conjecturer's column" predicts more "cold days" (with highs below 46 degrees) than last winter but fewer "wet days" and fewer "cyclonic storms." On the whole, about average.
November and December will see just "average" temperatures and precipitation. January looks like it could be the snowiest month, with below-average temps and above-average precipitation. February will be colder than average, too, but with only average precip. And March will bring both above-average temps and below-average precip.
The old Conjecturer - Bill O'Toole, a Mount St. Mary's math and computer science prof. - says the season's first snowstorm, at least for Hagerstown, will begin Dec. 19, with more chances for snow on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
To their credit, the folks at the Almanack are straight about their track record, noting that last winter's forecast was about half right. Or half wrong. "This was not one of our best years," O'Toole confessed. He forecast 111 cold days and got 80, of which 66 fell on the predicted dates. He expected 62 wet days and got 56, including 32 on the right dates. And of the 21 cyclonic storms that showed up, 14 arrived on the right dates.
But when he's right, he's right. In the 2004 edition, O'Toole forecast a "tropical storm" between Sept. 16 and 19 and posted a tornado watch for those dates. On the 17th, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan passed through town after triggering a large outbreak of tornadoes in the region.
Then again, my old railroad pocket watch hasn't run in years. And it's still right twice a day.