Brace yourself, the prognosticators at the 2020 Farmers' Almanac say, for the "Polar Coaster Winter" of 2019-2020.

"Been there, done that," say Quad-Citians still fresh from a 2018-2019 brutal winter without end that was punctuated by the lowest temperatures in Q-C history.

Well, brace yourself for deja vu all over again this year. Or so warns the annual forecast published by the Maine-based journal, which should not be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac, which also is trumpeting bad news online and at newsstands and supermarket and convenience-store checkouts.

Indeed, if you're looking for a sunnier, second opinion, don't expect to get it from the latter periodical, which predicts this winter will be "snowy, icy, icky" for those of us in the Quad-Cities. What it calls Heartland Region 10 will experience temperatures “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.”

Meanwhile, as hinted at above, the Farmers' Almanac is predicting an icy, yo-yoing season that will linger in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and New England well into April. In all, its prognosticators predict a winter "filled with so many ups and downs on the thermometer, it may remind you of a Polar Coaster."

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A show of hands, please: Who's anxious to see a repeat of last year's brutal cold and snow that helped lead to this year's record damaging spring flooding? We can't imagine many would choose to stay on the wild, crazy and dangerous weather ride we've been on for too long. It's not just scary. It's dangerous, and even more frightening is that many experts warn that today's perilous patterns will become the new normal. No wonder we're afraid to see what comes next.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier's Melody Parker found the perfect word to describe the malady we're suffering from, and which we fear will only worsen as meteorological winter draws nearer: "chionophobia," or simply put, "the fear or extreme dislike of snow."

As sufferers, we believe there is no cure. There is, however, a palliative effect in this helpful fact: Whatever special sauce the predictors at this pair of famous periodicals cook up to create their guesses, meteorologists repeatedly warn us that such long-range weather forecasting is a bit of a crapshoot. It's difficult to do even when you have access to the vast technology that these experts use to provide reliable and science-based long-term weather planning, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's winter seasonal outlook, which is not due out until October.

Until the scientists are heard from, by all means, feel free to intone ominously in "Game of Thrones"-style that "winter is coming," and "nothing burns like the cold." But hold the panic.

It also might not hurt our fellow chionophobia sufferers to join us in hoping for the best and, like the wiser folk of the North in George R.R. Martin's Westeros, preparing for the worst.


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