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Almanac predicts cold N.E. winter

LEWISTON, Maine -- Keep your boots and long johns handy this winter if you are living in the eastern half of the United States, the Farmers' Almanac's forecast suggests. But people in the West can look forward to a milder winter than the last one.

"Mother Nature is going to be sort of two-faced," almanac editor Peter Geiger said.

The almanac's 2008 edition, which goes on sale tomorrow, predicts colder-than-normal temperatures and above-average precipitation east of the Mississippi, with milder temperatures and near- or below-normal precipitation in the western half of the country.

Areas just west of the Mississippi will seesaw from wintry to springlike conditions.

The almanac foresees plenty of snow across eastern New York and New England and temperatures averaging up to 3 degrees below normal along most of the Atlantic Coast.

The outlook is tamer for the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest desert, and the Pacific Coast.

The forecasts are prepared two years in advance by the almanac's reclusive prognosticator, Caleb Weatherbee.

The almanac's winter forecast is at odds with the federal government's seasonal outlook. For the coming winter, those trends point to above-normal temperatures in the eastern half of the United States and the Southwest.

The almanac, not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac founded 26 years earlier, claims a circulation of about 5 million.

This year's 208-page retail edition contains the usual mix of recipes, riddles, anecdotes, corny jokes, and inspirational messages.

The latest collection of helpful hints includes applying a mixture of tomato juice and buttermilk to relieve sunburn, and heating two teaspoons of vanilla extract for 30 seconds to rid a microwave oven of the smell of burnt popcorn.

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