The Old Farmer’s Almanac, More Reliable than the Weatherman

Have you ever wondered how people figured out the weather before radar and television reporters? In most cases, it was a wise man/woman, a lucky guess, or prayer, none of which were consistently accurate. Robert B. Thomas, a scholar, changed that in 1792. That was the year he penned the first Farmer’s Almanac, filled with uncanny, accurate meteorology forecasts and other useful information.

Centuries of Accurate Predictions

For centuries, the North American and Canadian communities have seen the weather oriented almanac as a trusted and much-used reference guide. There were similar almanacs in publication, but the uncanny accuracy of Thomas’s various predictions garnered the most attention. The Almanac sold 3000 copies the first year and increased to 9000 during its second.

Image Courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts forecasts for 18 regions of the United States and Canada. The sun, moon, stars, and planets are printed around the cover’s edges. Inside, almanac enthusiasts find daily, weekly, monthly and annual weather forecasts, tools, and charts under the weather section. The Astronomy chapters feature astronomical events that can affect the atmospheric conditions, like meteor showers, eclipses, tides charts, sitting and rising of the sun, the rotation of the planets, and more. The Gardening section covers seasonal forecasts, potential floods, droughts, and frost dates.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

Farmer’s Almanac is an Excellent Resource

This book is an excellent reference companion for planting, but the uses go far beyond that. Folks began to trust the weather predictions, and utilize that knowledge for plans. The church organized annual picnics and events according to the editor’s foresight. People started setting weddings dates when the Almanac predicted the beautiful weather. This wondrous book of meteorological knowledge became a go-to source for many a social occasion.

The Fantastic Formula

The accuracy behind the Almanac’s weather reports is due to a methodical formula tracking nature’s natural phenomena, planetary cycles, and movements. Thomas’s process provides 80% accurate data, which is better than the average weatherman. The precious original formula still exists, safely tucked away in New Hampshire’s Farmer’s Almanac business office.

Image Courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Almanac does focus mainly on the different aspects of seasonal weather but offers other contributions. Beyond daily, weekly, monthly, and annual forecasts, we find delicious seasonal recipes, tips on canning, pickling, and food storage. There are sections covering home remedies, pet remedies, and horoscopes. Each editor also adds a little humor to Thomas’s tradition.

Even Spies Trusted the Almanac

During 1942, the weather prediction accuracy almost placed the 13th editor, Rob Sagendorph, and the Almanac on the wrong side of history. A German U-boat crept into New York, landing in Long Island. A spy stepped onto American soil to gather Intel against the United States. Fortunately, the FBI discovered and apprehended the enemy before any damage could be done. However, in the spy’s pocket, was a copy of the 1942 Farmer’s Almanac. The government learned our useful book was indirectly aiding the Germans via the accurate forecasting.  Since the aid was unintentional, no fault was found in providing precise weather details to the public.

Then again it may explain the lack of accuracy in modern meteorology reporting.

The Tradition Continues

Times have changed, but the accuracy of the Farmer’s Almanac weather predictions remains the same. The 13th and first female editor, Janice Stillman took over the publication in 2000, continuing the dedication first established by Thomas hundreds of years before. Stillman also added digital access via a shortened online version of The Farmer’s Almanac.

If you have never read this age-old book of knowledge, it is time to take a peek. You might find yourself turning off the weather channel and turning a page in the Farmer’s Almanac instead.

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