Lewiston, Maine August 29 (AP by David Sharp)--Parts of the country have another Y2K problem to worry about: a powerful storm in the last days of 1999.
So says the Farmers' Almanac, which predicts a stormy November and December, capped by a weather system packing more than a foot of snow in the last week of the year for the Midwest and Northeast.
But the clouds should part by the time champagne corks pop, said Sondra Duncan, the almanac's managing editor. This year's edition is due out Tuesday.
``It's going to be cold and there will be snow on the ground, but the New Year's Eve festivities, which will be quite elaborate this year, should be OK,'' Duncan assured.
The National Weather Service harrumphs that the weather can't be predicted with any certainty so far in advance.
But the 183-year-old Farmers' Almanac claims its weather predictions are right 80 percent of the time.
``We're older than the National Weather Service, and we affectionately call the National Weather Service a 'non-prophet,''' editor Peter Geiger said.
The Farmers' Almanac, not to be confused with the Old Farmer's Almanac in neighboring New Hampshire, which is 24 years older, bases its weather forecast on a secret formula that involves sunspots, position of the planets and tidal action caused by the moon.
Geiger said the almanac correctly forecast last year's monster storm that dumped nearly 22 inches on Chicago. He also said a prediction for a major storm in New England in mid January was fulfilled when a foot-and-a-half of snow fell in western Massachusetts.
The good news this winter is that things will be milder after a November and December ``that will be unusually stormy and active across much of the country,'' the almanac says.
Colorado, whose ski resorts were hurt by a lack of snow last year, will see four major storms between November and year's end, and may see a white Christmas, the almanac says, according to the book. And the Northeast will be pounded by three significant snowstorms in December, it says.
``Once we get these early storms out of the way, the rest of the winter should seem tame by comparison,'' wrote Caleb Weatherbee, the almanac's chief weather prognosticator.
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press