Monday, January 05, 2015

'The Old Farmer's Almanac,' the Weather, and Being Culture Current

For some reason, ever since I saw a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac hanging by a wall telephone in the kitchen of a farm house my parents were thinking of buying when I was a kid, I've been hooked on the annual publication. The editors say that the publication goes back to 1792, when it was first published by a journalist named Robert B. Thomas. One online encyclopedia says that the almanac "has proven to be the most durable periodical in American publishing."

Almost every year I pick up a copy, mostly to see how far off or on target the editors are in calling the weather. Each year, the almanac presents an elaborate set of forecasts for the eighteen regions into which they divide the US, including ones for Alaska and Hawaii.

Tonight, the National Weather Service says that here in the Dayton area, we're going to get a fairly heavy snow this evening, with accumulations of between three and five inches.

The almanac designates this area as part of their region 7, the Ohio Valley, and says that on January 1-5, we should expect, "Snow showers, very cold."

Well, it did turn very cold today. The current reading 17-degrees. So, maybe the almanac editors know what they're talking about.

But they also say that January 6 to 10 are to be sunny and mild. The National Weather Service forecast doesn't jibe with that. We'll see.

The almanac claims that it uses three sciences in projecting a year's worth of weather across the US: solar science, studying sun spots and solar activity (the inclusion of which in their method they trace back to Thomas himself); climatology; and meteorology. They claim that last year, they had an 80.6% accuracy rate. If true, that would be pretty impressive forecasting for a whole year.

The publication has a section on astronomy each year. (As well as amusements, the year's big anniversaries, calendars and holidays, food, gardening, home remedies, husbandry, outdoors, romance, and miscellany.)

But disappointingly, it still features a section on astrology, which sort of makes you question the credibility of all the other content.

By the way, this is only the fourth post I've ever written about the weather. But all of them were written during winter. Guess I'm too busy enjoying the weather the rest of the year to talk about it much.

And it's the first time I've written about The Old Farmer's Almanac, proving once again how culture current and cutting edge I truly am.

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