EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 18, 2013

'Old Farmer's Almanac' sees cold, snowy winter

Many N.H. residents rely on trusted forecast

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — People say the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” is one of the “603 Reasons” that makes New Hampshire special.

They say that even when the Dublin-based almanac brings them bad news.

This winter’s forecast? Frigid with heavy snow.

The almanac is predicting below normal temperatures and above normal snowfall during most of the winter.

The almanac still relies on the formula its founder, Robert B. Thomson, used to forecast the weather two centuries ago.

“We have the original formula locked up in a box in the Dublin office,” senior associate editor Sarah Perreault said.

The “Old Farmer’s Almanac” turned up at No. 323 on the list of “603 Reasons” New Hampshire is special.

Ryan Breton, a meteorology student who runs the AtkinsonWeather.com site, doesn’t rely on the almanac.

“It’s fun to look at,” Breton said. “I certainly don’t go by it.”

He’s heard of the almanac’s secret formula.

“Until I have any clue what that method is, I will defer to real science,” Breton said.

Sam Miller, associate professor of meterology at Plymouth State University, said he relies on scientific method based on data analysis, not the almanac.

“I don’t know what the ‘Old Farmer’s Almanac’ does, they keep their method secret,” Miller said. “I would advise people to look at the National Weather Service for their forecasting. That’s your gold standard right there. They are the pros.”

But Perreault said there are many reasons besides that much-anticipated forecast readers look for the almanac.

“People use us a lot for planting advice,” Perreault said.

That ranges from the best days for pruning to using astrology to guide their yard work.

“Gardening is huge in the almanac,” she said.

There are jokes, riddles and findings from odd studies.

“We have folklore-y weird home remedies,” Perreault said.

There are helpful articles, too. One in the 2014 edition deals with crop rotation.

“There is something for everyone,” Perreault said. “We hope they can read it all year.”

This is the 222nd issue.

“We first came out when George Washington was president,” Perreault said.

George would have paid 6 cents for his copy of the almanac. It’s still a bargain at just $6.99.

The almanac is keeping up with the times, too. People can get versions for their electronic readers or their computer.

“That’s kind of new for us,” Perreault said.