Old Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Another Cruel Winter
By Leah Lancione
By definition, an almanac records and predicts astronomical events (the rising and setting of the sun, for instance), tides, weather, and other phenomena in relation to time. First published in 1792, the most widely respected and consulted almanac is the Old Farmer’s Almanac, thanks to its founding editor, Robert B. Thomas. The almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical.
Though there have been countless other almanacs produced, Thomas’s predictions about the weather have proven to be the most accurate. “Thomas used a complex series of natural cycles to devise a secret weather forecasting formula, which brought uncannily accurate results, traditionally said to be 80 percent accurate.” (www.almanac.com) The formula is so treasured that it is still preserved under lock and key in the almanac headquarters in Dublin, New Hampshire.
Historical accounts of the almanac’s value include a report in 1942 that a German spy was apprehended in New York with a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac in his coat pocket. Speculation traveled fast that the Germans were using the periodical for its beneficial weather forecasts. The almanac survived accusations it was aiding and abetting the enemy.
So, what does this secret and precise formula predict for the nation’s Winter weather this year from November 2014 to March 2015)? Maryland is grouped in the “Atlantic Corridor” designation along with Connecticut, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island and parts of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. According to the almanac, the first couple of weeks of November will be cool (3 degrees below the average) with periods of increased precipitation. Mildly cool days with cold nights will give way to chances for showers and snow flurries in the last week, so you better plan for some hearty comfort foods for Thanksgiving.
Beyond November, the outlook isn’t so great if you long for mild Winters. However, if you’re “dreaming of a white Christmas,” you may just get your wish. According to the almanac, “winter will be colder and slightly wetter than normal, with above-normal snowfall.” The almanac is also calling for the coldest weather in late December and early to mid-January, with the most snow coming into the region in mid- to late December as well as mid-January and early to mid-February.
Another seasonal fact is the Winter solstice officially takes place at 6:03 p.m. on Dec. 21, signaling the start of the season. If the almanac is “on the money,” it’ll be another harsh Winter. Fortunately, the almanac’s forecast for Spring looks bright with a “generally drier and warmer” April and May.
Although the almanac boasts an 80 percent accuracy rate, if you want to compare other predictions for Winter weather, check out the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at www.noaa.gov for their long-range forecasts.
For more information or to consult the Old Farmer’s Almanac yourself, visit your local library or log onto www.almanac.com