Simply defined, it is the fear or extreme dislike of snow. It’s a word — and a phobia — northeastern Iowans may well know and understand by winter’s end in 2020.

Take a look at the Old Farmer’s 2020 Almanac weather map for winter 2019-20, and you’ll see “Snowy, Icy, Icky” stamped across Region 10 Heartland, which includes Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

While Iowa may not be “hammered,” the state will definitely “be tapped,” said Janice Stillman, the almanac’s editor. Predictions are for “big chills and strong storms. Snow will fall, it will melt and refreeze into ice, then it will melt, then more snow,” she said.

In other words, if you thought last winter was rough, hang onto your snow shovel.

According to the Heartland prediction, winter temperatures are expected to be “below normal, on average, with above-normal snowfall and slightly-above-normal precipitation. The coldest periods will be in early to mid-January, early and mid-February and early March. The snowiest periods will be in early- to mid-December, early to mid-January and mid-February.”

Keep in mind that “below” and “above” average winter temperatures may be only by 1 to 4 degrees higher or lower than “normal” years.

Seven major snowstorms will impact the US, Stillman said, including a couple of storms that will surge across the Rockies in late March and early April. “So it may feel like the longest never-ending winter,” she predicted.

The country’s midsection will experience a “warmer and slightly drier than normal” spring, followed by “Sizzle & Drizzle” in the summer — warmer and rainier than normal, the almanac reports.

Last year, the Old Farmer’s Almanac was 80.5 percent accurate in predicting last winter’s wild weather.

“Our meteorologists were a little better at predicting temperature than precipitation because that’s a little harder to call,” Stillman explained. Prognosticators use a formula created by almanac founder Robert B. Thomas in 1792, although methodology has been refined and enhanced by state-of-the-art technology and modern science.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac “is a tradition for a lot of folks — and it’s not just farmers. It can be a fun, entertaining distraction from today’s headlines, but it’s also an important reference book, something that comes out every fall and gives readers a hint of what to expect,” she explained.

The almanac also is a “100-percent accurate calendar to the heavens,” including astronomical predictions and events such as planet and star transits, twilight times and lengths of days and a calendar for the best days to pickle, feast or fast, plant by the moon and even cut hair or brew beer.

“Our mission is to be ‘useful with a pleasant degree of humor,’” Stillman said. That saying appears on the cover of each issue. There are multiple pages describing interesting and occasionally ridiculous 2020 trends in the kitchen, garden, pets, money, collectibles, health and fashion.

“We don’t make this up … it’s thoroughly researched, and experts around the country are our sources. Our almanac collection goes back to the very first issue in 1792, and it’s fascinating and fun to go back five or 50 years, open the book and see what life was like, what the trends were back then.”

The almanac notes that 2020 is a “Leap Year and (until July 4, 2020), the 244th year of American Independence.”

More than 3 million copies of the Old Farmer’s Almanac are sold each year. It is available in print and digital editions.


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