COLUMBIA — They told us it was coming but not how big it would be.
The 2011 Farmer's Almanac, which claims its forecasts are 80 percent accurate, predicted roughly when this week's 1,200-mile-long blizzard would strike, indicating that Missouri would see snowfall during the last half of January and early February.
But the almanac failed to peg the amount of snow the region would receive, predicting that Missouri would experience 2 more inches of precipitation than average, which is 6.1 inches in Columbia. The record-setting 17 plus inches of snow that fell Wednesday debunked that prediction.
While Punxsutawney Phil's 39 percent accuracy rating alludes to his less-than-scientific approach to forecasting, the Farmer's Almanac website says its prediction method involves solar science, climatology and meteorology, along with a secret 1792 formula locked in a black box.
Mid-Missouri is experiencing a negative shift in the North Atlantic oscillation, which places the cold weather phenomenon, La Niña, in control. This means there are warming conditions in the Arctic and colder conditions in the middle latitudes, which enables colder temperatures to flow southward from Canada, as explained in a previous Missourian article. In it, Anthony Lupo, an MU professor of atmospheric science, said he expected more snow was on the way, which contradicted the Climate Prediction Center's prediction of warmer than normal conditions.
Lupo was correct.
The almanac predicts more snow is on the way for the nation's heartland during late February and mid-March — predictions that clash with Phil's Feb. 2 forecast. Phil didn't see his shadow this year, which according to tradition, means that spring is near.