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US farmers at odds with government over weather
WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (AFP) Aug 27, 2007
An annual US publication with a track record for accurately predicting the weather found itself at odds Monday with the government weather service over what winter is going to be like in the United States.

The 191st edition of the US Farmers' Almanac, which goes on sale on Tuesday, predicts a colder than usual winter from Maine to normally warm Florida, in the eastern half of the United States, with excellent skiing conditions in the northeast.

The western half of the United States will enjoy mild conditions with near- to below-normal precipitation, the Almanac says.

"Overall, Mother Nature is showing no mercy to the east and being a little more forgiving in the west," the book, which calls itself a compendium of facts, predicts.

The National Weather Service's (NWS) forecast, meanwhile, had heart-warming words for Americans grappling with high fuel prices.

Much of the United States, including the east, will enjoy higher than normal temperatures this winter, with only the northwest left out of the above-normal trend, NWS meteorologist Edward O'Lenic told AFP.

Farmers' Almanac editor Sandi Duncan hinted that the Almanac's forecast was the one to pay attention to.

"Our track record speaks for itself," Duncan said. Readers of the book say it gets the weather right 85 percent of the time.

"We go out on a limb and stand by our predictions; they don't."

O'Lenic said the NWS only professes to "tell you how the dice are loaded for the season, based on trends and probability."

The Farmers' Almanac, which in its 2005 edition predicted two strong hurricanes -- Katrina and Rita -- would rip through the same part of the Gulf of Mexico coastal region in the southern United States, is forecasting an unusually active tornado season in the midwestern states next year and an active hurricane season starting in July.

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