Demand for natural gas and electricity could be high this winter if the predictions of the Farmers’ Almanac — which is calling for below-average temperatures across two-thirds of the country — prove to be accurate.

The far West and Southeast will see near-normal temperatures this winter, but “numb’s the word” for most of the rest of the country, according to the 192-year-old publication. Few, if any, locations will enjoy many above-normal temperature days this winter, according to the Farmers’ Almanac 2009 edition, which goes on sale this week. The forecast calls for especially cold weather to dominate from Montana, Wyoming and Colorado east all the way into New England.

The Great Lakes and Midwest can also expect above-normal snowfall, especially during January and February, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Most of the South and the Midwest will also experience above-normal precipitation, but their relatively warm temperatures will produce some rain as well as snow during the winter months. The Almanac also predicted above-normal precipitation for the Southwest during December, for the Southeast in January and February, and for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in February. The usually damp Pacific Northwest could have a drier-than-normal February, the Almanac said.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, its August 2007 predictions for last winter — warm and dry extremes balancing extremes of cold and wet — turned out to be more accurate than other long-range forecasts that had called for mostly above-normal temperatures nationwide and no prolonged spells of cold weather.

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