Are Iowans in for an especially cold and snowy winter? Here's what the 'Farmers Almanac' says.

Philip Joens
Des Moines Register

"Numb's the word" for this winter's forecast in Iowa, according to "Farmers' Almanac."

"Farmers' Almanac" Editor Peter Geiger says Iowans should expect this winter to be mild and then cold and snowy before ending on a mild note. A blast of "arctic frigidity" is expected at the end of December and could bring temperatures to as low as minus 20 degrees, Geiger said. January could be milder, but parts of February could be cold, Geiger said.

"We've actually talked about it being a flip-flop kind of winter," Geiger said. "Overall, we're talking about 'Numb's the word for Iowa. Obviously, it all depends on what part of the state you live, as to what you get."

Farmer's was created in 1818 and predicts weather 16 months in advance using mathematical and astronomical formulations. The formula takes into account sunspot activity, tidal activity, planets' positions and "a variety of other factors," according to its website.

"Farmer's Almanac" forecast for winter 2021-2022.

Stormy and cold weather was forecast this fall for western Iowa, the Rocky Mountains, Montana and Wyoming.

"September, October there's fair amount of storms coming through — a lot of wind and rain," Geiger said. "So I think that's what you're going to get."

"The Old Farmer's Almanac," on the other hand, went into publication in 1792, when George Washington was president. Back then, "The Old Farmer's Almanac" founder, Robert B. Thomas, predicted the weather by studying sunspots. Now, the publication predicts weather by studying solar science, climatology and meteorology.

"The Old Farmer's Almanac" claims its predictions are right about 80% of the time.

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The "Old Farmer's Almanac" is predicting drier than normal conditions in western U.S. states and colder than normal conditions in eastern U.S. states.

This year, the almanac predicts the west will be drier than normal, but the east will be colder than normal. Editor Janice Stillman said in a news release that this winter "could well be one of the longest and coldest that we've seen in years."

"This winter will be punctuated by positively bone-chilling, below-average temperatures across most of the U.S.," according to the release.

Last year, "The Old Farmer's Almanac" predicted that Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and western Illinois would see higher temperatures and less snow than in typical years, while "Farmers' Almanac" predicted that Midwestern states would see above-average snowfall, but be colder than normal.

Average temperatures in December and January were above average, but February's temperatures were 12 degrees below average. Des Moines saw almost twice its normal amount of snow.

"I think we did pretty well," Geiger said. "While we don't hit everything, I think we did pretty good, overall, especially in the middle part of the country."

Iowans' wait for the season's first snowfall may not be that long: Des Moines saw its first measurable snowfall of the year last year on Oct. 17, 2020. Two days later, Polk City recorded 9 inches of snowfall when a snow squall hit the metro.

In addition to its annual almanac, the company also publishes gardening calendars, fishing calendars, astronomy information and other "life hacks," Geiger said. The weather part of the publication is fun, he said, but, overall, "Farmers' Almanac" is a lifestyle publication meant to help people.

"It helps people be self-sufficient," Geiger said. "The intent of the almanac was never to be a weather publication. The rest of it is about life and how we all fit into life."

Philip Joens covers breaking news for the Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at pjoens@registermedia.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.