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The Farmer's Almanac: How do they do it?

August 28, 2019 11:39 PM

This year’s Farmer’s Almanac winter outlook was released recently for the United States. It states that the Northeastern US will see below-average temperatures and above-average snowfall this winter. I know that here in Western New York, The Farmer’s Almanac is rather popular, and people look forward to it each year.   

The concept of the Farmer’s Almanac is actually rather contested in the metrological circle as well. Trying to forecast the weather up to a year out is a stretch, which is why we reached out to the Farmer’s Almanac’s Peter Geiger to discuss how the come up with their outlooks. 

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”I think the basics of the Almanac is that in 1818 the first editor David Young was a philosopher, an astronomer, a mathematician, a calculator and a farmer,” says Geiger.
 
“So back in those days, weather was important to farmers. So he came up with a mathematical formula that gets applied to sunspot activity, the effect the moon has on the earth, all of that in a formula and then he started to predict the weather for the farmers.”  

It’s a rather unconventional way forecasting, but he also mentioned that over the past two hundred years only seven people have been forecasting at the Farmer’s Almanac, many of them writing these long range outlooks for most of their life. 

They also claim that their forecast is around 75% to 80% accurate. Strictly going off of Climatology information would put them right around that ballpark number on many of their forecasts.  That aside though, Peter stated the Almanac has a lot more information in it than just weather.  

“I think more than weather, the Almanac is about life. It’s about how to grow things, how to live better and how to not pollute, and how to live cohesively with the earth and each other. So that is what the Almanac is about.”

The main thing to remember when looking at the Farmer’s Almanac is that it is a general long range outlook- Especially when it comes to the winter outlook. There is some science behind it, which they are holding tight to their chest and not giving it out.  You can take a look at their forecast for yourself at this link.
 

Credits

Robert Speta

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