The Farmers’ Almanac, is it better than your local weather personality?

Since 1818, the Farmers’ Almanac, most famous for it’s uncanny ability to accurately predict the weather, has been assisting farmers with everything from the best days to plant and fish to natural remedies to cure a cold.

In a recent article by the Christian Science Monitor, Chris Gaylord compared Punxsutawney Phil to the Farmers’ Almanac. He mentioned that maybe Punxsutawney Phil is more like the Farmers' Almanac because it predicts temperature trends for an entire year. A survey by the Weather Underground shows varying reports on the annual guide – ranging from 50 to 80 percent accuracy. Better than a groundhog.

In the month of February, the United States (especially the Northeast) was dumped on by snow, snow and more snow, just like the Farmers’ Almanac predicted.

“For the Middle Atlantic and Northeast States, we are predicting a major snow storm in mid-February; possibly even blizzard conditions.”

Whitman, Mass. Highway Superintendent Roger Stolte, said “No one can predict – except maybe the Farmer’s Almanac – how much snow we’re going to get each year,” in a recent article discussing how costly snow removal has been for their town this year.

So will farmers have an easier spring? According to the almanac, “Spring showers will be abundant, and there is threat of an active tornado season.” With a rough winter, will farmers be able to get their crops in on time? When will they catch a break? The almanac is calling for “near-normal summer precipitation.” Which should give farmers the break they deserve.

How does the Farmer’s Almanac predict the weather so accurately? The editors base their calculations on numerous factors such as sunspots, moon phases and other astronomical conditions. But editors do admit, they are not perfect.

“Although many longtime Almanac followers claim that our forecasts are 80 percent to 85 percent accurate, it should be noted that weather forecasting still remains an inexact science. Therefore, our forecasts may sometimes be imperfect. If you are planning an outdoor event, we recommend that you also check forecasts from local sources.”

But the almanac predicts more than just the weather. It includes money-saving tips, recipes for homemade dishes and what days are best to take vacation.

The majority of editions of the publication include articles advocating for a change in some accepted social practices. Articles such as:
  • “How Much Daylight Are We Really Saving” a recommendation for a revised Daylight Saving Time schedule (2007)
  • “A Cure for Doctors’ Office Delays” an article demanding more prompt medical service and calling for a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” (1996)
  • “Pennies Make No Sense” a story which sought to eliminate the penny, and to permanently replace the dollar bill with less costly-to-produce dollar coins (1989)
For 2010, the publication has included tips about how to save a buck with “Keep Frugal Living a Priority” and how to “go green” with “Dollars and Sense of Going Green.”

In 2007, Farmers’ Almanac took its readers online by re-launching its original 1997 Web site, This interactive Web site features videos, weather predictions, recipes and much more.

How often do you refer to the Farmers’ Almanac to help you with your planting and harvesting decisions? Do you feel that this publication is a useful tool?

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