Farmer’s Almanac predicting a white winter

As Texas gets at least a temporary reprieve this week from the heat, with a nice round of rain blanketing much of the state, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting January will bring significant snowfall to the state.
The periodical, founded in 1818,  develops its extended forecast “using a 204-year-old mathematical formula focused on sunspot activity, planet positions and tidal actions of the moon.” The almanac’s website claims its forecasts are 80 to 85 percent accurate.
Since the secret formula was first developed by David Young, an astronomer and mathematician who was the almanac’s first editor, only seven people have been hired to develop the weather predictions. 
A meteorologist for the National Weather Service interviewed by the Austin American-Statesman casts a skeptical eye on the almanac’s methods and predictions.
“There is little to no scientific evidence that sunspot activity and the position of planets have any impact on our weather and our climate,” Keith White said. “A lot of the statements they use in terms of what they expect over the course of a season are very broad and can be applied kind of subjectively by people.”
Neither the Almanac nor the weather service are predicting another Winter Storm Uri, which resulted in the deaths of at least 246 people in Texas in February 2021.


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which drew scathing criticism for the massive power blackouts during Uri, has a new chief executive officer. The hiring of Pablo Vegas was approved by the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT.
Vegas currently serves as executive vice president of NiSource and group president, NiSource Utilities. He succeeds interim CEO Brad Jones on Oct. 1.
After Uri, most of ERCOT’s board resigned and its CEO was terminated. A number of reforms and protective measures have been implemented since Uri, though critics question whether the grid can withstand another storm of Uri’s magnitude.


TEA ratings
The Texas Education Agency last week released the first A-F school accountability ratings for the first time since 2019, due to two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show some improvement in grades, with 396 districts, or 33.1 percent, receiving an A rating. That was up from 301 getting the top grade in 2019. 
Conversely, 16 districts got a failing grade, up from 14 in 2019. Among individual campuses, 2,356, or 27.9 percent, received the top grade, up from 1,750 in 2019. The number of campuses that received an F totaled 188, less than half the 402 schools that failed the accountability ratings in 2019.

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