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AMERICAN MORNING

Farmers' Forecast

Aired August 29, 2003 - 07:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Snow. Remember that? It's not even fall, and you may not be thinking about winter, but the folks at "The Farmers' Almanac" are trying to predict where the season will hit hardest. What will be the snowiest, coldest and wettest parts of the country?
Here with some of the legendary publication's forecasts is the managing editor of "The Farmers' Almanac," Sandi Duncan.

Thanks for being with us, Sandi.

SANDI DUNCAN, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE FARMERS' ALMANAC": Thanks for having me.

COOPER: I want to show a map that you all have on your Web site, which shows the United States. And what -- well, let's talk about the winter. Is it going to be colder than normal?

It does look very cold, especially the eastern half of the country. It looks like it's going to start getting cold in November. And then it's going to be very cold in the west and the north central states. And it's going to be very wet as well in the majority part of the country.

COOPER: But mild, you're saying, in the Florida region?

DUNCAN: Yes, actually not too bad in the southeast. There is going to be a few infusions of cold air in mid-January and February, but overall it's going to be kind of a mild winter down there.

COOPER: We had a lot of rain this past summer in the northeast. Is that going to continue?

DUNCAN: It looks like it's going to be kind of subsiding in September, but October is going to be wet. December is going to be so-so, and then January, and look out February.

COOPER: Yes, what is going to happen in February? I read that that's really a bad month. And you even give some particular dates. You mentioned, like, February 8 through the 11th, and the 16th through 19th, if people are planning traveling.

DUNCAN: Yes, I wouldn't plan that, especially in the northeast or the Great Lakes. According to "The Farmers' Almanac" predictions, we're calling for a very serious February with lots of snow and ending series of storms -- in fact, bringing lots of snow, with the heaviest snowstorm perhaps on February 8 through the 11th. COOPER: All right, now, how can you possibly know this? I mean, my local weatherman gets it wrong for, like, what's going to happen tomorrow. How can you know February 8 to 11th there is going to be, you know, that particular snow?

DUNCAN: Well, "The Farmers' Almanac" has been making predictions for 187 years. It's based on an astronomically base formula. It is a top secret formula.

COOPER: It's top secret?

DUNCAN: It's top secret (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COOPER: Now, I've read it has something to do with, like, sun spots and moon tides and what Cristina Aguilera is wearing.

DUNCAN: No, no, none of that.

COOPER: No?

DUNCAN: But it is a formula, and we've been using it for almost 200 years, and it's kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We do our best to give people an idea of what might come six months from a year from now, and "The Farmers' Almanac" tries to go out on a limb and give people an idea of what the upcoming seasons are.

COOPER: And you claim you're accurate about 80 percent of the time.

DUNCAN: Yes, people that follow our forecasts say about 80 percent accurate. We were very accurate last year in predicting the big storm that ht New York City last year in February. And we kind of called for a cool and wetter than normal summer in the northeast as well.

COOPER: Some of your predictions are sort of vague. The National Weather Service says there is no way to predict this far in advance. You say peshaw (ph)?

DUNCAN: I think they're just a little bit jealous, you know. They don't want to go out on a limb.

COOPER: You think they're jealous?

DUNCAN: That's right. But we can't take the place of your local weather forecasters, but "The Farmers' Almanac" does try to give an outlook for what's to come. And you might want to take note of it. If you're going to go on vacation in February, you might want to head to the southeast or you might want to head to Hawaii.

COOPER: Well, the new "Almanac" came out on Tuesday?

DUNCAN: On Tuesday. It's available in most bookstores and at grocery stores and then online at farmersalmanac.com.

COOPER: All right, well, we'll bring you back the season, and we'll see how you did there in predicting.

DUNCAN: OK.

COOPER: All right, Sandi Duncan, thanks very much.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

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