Weather Myths: Is there any truth to the Old Farmer's Almanac?

January 18, 2017 10:34 AM

Is there any truth to the Old Farmer's Almanac, or is it just fiction? 

The book has sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1782, but just how much stock should be put into it? 

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It claims to have a special formula- locked in a box in New Hampshire- that is said to be able to predict the weather for the year.

Evan Schutt, who owns Schutt Farms in Penfield, is the type of person who might use it for predict the weather well in advance:

"The weather forecast is the deciding factor in what we pretty much do everyday." 

"It would make farming that much easier, it would make my year happy."

But does he read the Old Farmer's Almanac? No.

"I'm honestly relatively new into the farming lifestyle. I'm more of a person that uses my smartphone and apps to track the weather, to see what the weather is happening because it changes so quickly and so often that I don't use the Farmer's Almanac, and more use newer technology."

That isn't a bad strategy for him. The book has a long history, but the science behind it isn't special. Despite claims of an 80% success rate, the almanac is more of a 50/50 proposition.

Last year, for example, the Almanac predicted a cold winter, while the National Weather Service predicted a mild one. It proved to be an incredibly warm winter, so the Almanac got that wrong. On the other hand, two years ago the Almanac's prediction of a cold winter played out with a brutally cold season, while the National Weather Service had predicted a mild one.

The Almanac predicts a warmer than usual winter this year, so we'll have to wait to see how that plays out. But in the end, it's definitely more of an entertaining book than a scientific weather forecaster!


Rich Caniglia

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