December 19, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
29°F
test

Expect a hot/cold, wet/dry winter

What’s the weather going to be like? Depends who you ask.

ELYRIA — Get ready for driving snows and long bouts of freezing temperatures this winter.

Wait — make that warmer-than-average temperatures and light flurries.

What?

Predictions for winter 2008 are helter-skelter, depending on who’s being asked, and even competing almanacs are coming up with contradictory forecasts.

“Cold is the word in Ohio this year. You’re in for one chilly and stormy winter,” said Sandi Duncan, managing editor at “The Farmers’ Almanac.”

Using a 189-year-old formula based on numerology, the position of the planets and tidal phases, the almanac’s researchers say Elyria and the rest of the Lake Erie region will be abnormally bitter and snowy, Duncan said.

A thick frost will set in by the third week of October, and soggy weather will put a damper on watching the fall foliage change colors, she said.

But Heidi Stonehill, senior editor of another folk favorite, “The Old Farmers’ Almanac,” says temperatures here will actually be one or two degrees above normal, with less rain and snow than average.

Thermometers will dip to just 28 or so degrees in mid-January, and then 2008 will continue to be the warmest year on record, she predicts.

Soothsayers at her publication have been calling the weather since 1792 and chalk this year’s warm spell up to low sunspot activity and the effects of La Nina, Stonehill said.

Both books claim to be about 80 to 85 percent accurate, so which one to trust?

“The farmers that I talk to look at the almanacs for long-term forecasting, but they also look at the weather radar religiously,” said Joe Cornely of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “The farmers put a little bit of credence in what everybody says, but they don’t trust anybody absolutely.”

Local weather guru Ray Diederich, who recorded temperatures and gauged rain and snowfall for the National Weather Service in Cleveland for six decades until retiring last year, says this winter will not swing to either extreme. There will be a lot of snow, though, he believes.

His nephew, Chris Smith, who is also a weather spotter, is guessing that Lorain County is due for a lot of cold, wet days because the summer has been so warm and dry.

“These things come in waves,” he said.

Cleveland meteorologist Dick Goddard won’t reveal his winter forecast until the Vermilion Woollybear Festival on Sunday. His annual predictions are based on reading the thickness of the bands on the furry caterpillars found around the region and are more fun than scientifically reliable, he admits.

“We don’t really know how winter is going to go. If we did we’d be millionaires,” he said. “What I can tell you is that I’ve never seen a good winter. It’s going to be cold and snowy no matter what happens."

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.