The “secret formula” behind the Old Farmer’s Almanac predictions

America’s oldest continuously published periodical is back, and to keep up with the times, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has had to endure change since its first publication in 1793. But some of the key ingredients to the almanac’s success haven’t changed at all.

The most unexpected entry in this once-a-year yellow book is the weather.

“Frankly, we expect it to be a very white winter wonderland across much of North America,” said Carol Connary, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. “In winter, there is more snow, wetter and colder than usual in most areas.”

This is for most of the United States as a whole. For Rochester and most of upstate New York, the same forecast applies, according to the Almanac’s long-range forecast, based on the centuries-old “secret formula” of forecasting.

“Obviously improvements in technology have really changed things, but we remain committed to three scientific disciplines,” said Tim Goodwin, associate editor. “When it comes to weather forecasting, there’s solar science, but also climatology and meteorology. There’s a lot that goes into these forecasts because they’ve been done so far in advance.

Goodwin is a former newspaper journalist who was drawn to the Dublin, New Hampshire-based magazine as a child. The calendar uses weather data from trends over a period of thirty years, and prides itself on the traditional claim that its long-range forecasts are 80% correct.

“Last year, we were 100% when it came to rainfall, and just under 80% when it came to temperatures,” he said. “So it depends from year to year. But yeah, 80%, which I think is pretty good, because I watch the weather on TV sometimes and it’s not so good after a couple of days.

This year’s calendar also touches on an event that is 100% scientifically confirmed, such as a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Rochester is halfway through totality.

“It’s such a rare event that you don’t think much about it until it comes along,” Goodwin said. “But if you think about the fact that people would travel thousands of miles to get to this spot, to this overall path, it shows how rare this event is.”

It is as rare as the existence of The Old Farmer’s Almanac that is over 200 years old.

“There’s plenty here for everyone,” he said. “That’s what I like to tell people, the calendar comes out once a year, but you can get it any day and read about something interesting.”

(tags for translation) New York State

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