Why Some New Englanders Trust the Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Forecast
Reader’s Digest. Yankee Magazine. The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The must-have, Bathroom Big Three for any dad who’s indisposed.
Now that I’m a dad, I figure it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. The first one’s got jokes. The second’s a cultural thing. But why do New Englanders put so much stock in the annual weather prediction of The Old Farmer’s Almanac?
A popular legend is that in 1816, an edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac was mistakenly printed in which rain, hail, and snow were predicted for the month of July. This was believed to be an error, or a prank on Almanac founder Robert B. Thomas.
Thomas apparently rushed to have the Almanacs recalled, but to no avail. But in an odd twist when July rolled around, it apparently snowed!
Cue some old-timey “Curb Your Enthusiasm” theme.
According to Almanac.com, New England and Canada did indeed have wintry summers in 1816, as Mount Tambora in the East Indies erupted and sent volcanic dust drifting from continent to continent.
And allegedly, when that happened, Thomas went from frantically retracting his publication’s bizarre prediction to claiming victory (the more things change…).
But all that aside, should we trust the Almanac’s Forecast? In a word, no.
According to a study done by USA Today, the Almanac is only right about half the time, which would make it one of the worst forecasters in the business. But as is often the case, all it takes is one correct guess to make someone “experts" (it is important to note, however, that USA Today also put together a list of the best apple orchards, with three New England orchards making the cut, but inexplicably left out the very best).
So, with all due respect to my home state’s almanac, I think I’ll continue getting my weather from meteorologist Mark Rosenthal, or the weather app on my phone.
And really, that’s probably for the best. After all, I am not an old farmer. But I CAN tell you what October weather might tell us about winter in New England...