Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Old Farmer's Almanac didn't say it would be like this!

One of my Facebook friends (and old High School friends, and Speech Team friends) mentioned that her kids came home from school today and informed her that the Farmer's Almanac is calling for another snow storm in March that will make the last two "look like flurries." This caused me to go to my copy of the 2010 Old Farmer's Almanac (by Robert B. Thomas, No. CCXVIII) to see what was actually written on the Weather pages for Region 3 -Appalachians, which is where both she and I live. From page 208:

MAR. 2010: Temp 34.5 (4.5 below avg.); precip. 2" (1" below avg.) 1-5 Snow, then sunny, cold. 6-13 Periods of rain and snow, chilly. 14-15 Sunny, cold. 16-19 Rain, cool. 20-26 Rain and snow showers, chilly. 27-29 Sunny, cool. 30-31 T-storms, turning warm.
Nope, no mention of a major snowstorm coming. So I guess we're safe!

On a whim I then checked the forecasts for Region 2 - Atlantic Corridor. This is a strip that includes Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. I understand that they experienced some weather there over the last few weeks. So what did the Old Farmer's Almanac have to say about February for them?

FEB. 2010: Temp 34 (1 above avg.); precip. 3.5" (0.5" above avg.) 1-5 Showers, warm. 6-10 Rain to snow, then sunny, seasonable. 11-14 Snow showers, then sunny, very cold. 15-18 Snow, then rain, milder. 19-24 Sunny, cold; then mild. 25-28 Snow, then heavy rain, seasonable.
...which doesn't really sound that accurate, from what I've heard.

"The Farmer's Almanac is predicting" is as much a red flag in casual conversation as "CNN ANNOUNCED THIS MORNING THAT THIS IS THE WORST VIRUS EVER" or "I CHECKED THIS OUT ON SNOPES" are in e-mailed warnings of impending doom. And, as with CNN or Snopes, it's also something easy to check. Not that, as can be seen above, a prediction that actually is in the Old Farmer's Almanac means a hell of a lot, one way or the other.

Of course, the Old Farmer's Almanac isn't the only almanac out there. There are others, and some even call themselves the "Farmer's Almanac." But my understanding is that if you buy them, the ghost of Robert B. Thomas will kill you in your sleep. I think I heard somebody say that they read that in the Old Farmer's Almanac.

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