The Farmer's Almanac: Fact or Fiction?

November 15, 2005

Some live their lives by it while others remain skeptical. It's the Farmer's Almanac and many people ask the question, is there any science behind this famous yearly publication?

The Farmer's Almanac has been making yearly forecasts for our nation for 213 years. Exactly how do they create these forecasts?

"The Farmer's Almanac is fundamentally climatology. The people who put the Farmer's Almanac's predictions together understand the climatology of The United States," said Jerry Stenger, Assistant State Climatologist at The University of Virginia.

So how can you take climatology and make a forecast out of it? You may surprised at how easy this really is.

"If you want to predict there's a snowstorm that will occur at some point in the second week of January in a region that covers several states in the Northeast, your chances of being correct are pretty darn high," said Stenger.

So unfortunately for meteorologists, it looks like they can't take their forecasts right out of the Farmer's Almanac, but can farmers use this book to their advantage?

"I do look at the forecasts but to be honest, I don't put a great deal of faith in any weather forecast beyond the next few hours," said A.C. Shackelford, president of the Albemarle County Farm Bureau.

Sticking with climatology can have better results than you might guess.

"They're right more often than you would expect, I think," said Shackelford.

So there's your food for thought. Now it's up to you to make the decision. Is the Farmer's Almanac fact or fiction? Or maybe, it's a little bit of both.

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