Predicting Snow for the Summer of 1816

Judson Hale

Here's a peculiar prediction: Legend says that a July forecast of “rain, hail, and snow” mistakenly appeared in The 1816 Old Farmer's Almanac.

Robert B. Thomas, the Almanac's founder, recalled the books and had new ones printed, but news of that forecast had gotten out. He became the subject of much ridicule—until July brought rain, hail, and snow throughout New England!

I always kept my eye out for copies of the 1816 edition. When I occasionally find one, in some antiques shop or sent to me by a reader, I immediately turn to the July and August calendar pages to see whether they contain the famous snow forecasts Thomas supposedly made for that summer.

To date, all I've found is “Now expect good hay weather,” “A storm is not far distant,” or “Sultry with thundershowers.” It's so disappointing.

Elusive Edition

However, I remain hopeful that a few copies still exist that do indeed predict “The Cold Summer of 1816,” as that summer is known in history book.

There's no question it did snow in New England and Canada during July and August of 1816. An 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the East Indies had left volcanic dust circling the globe, lowering temperatures as much as several degrees.

But did the Almanac predict the snow that summer?

Certainly the story that it did is an integral part of Almanac lore.

  • Some accounts say the printer inserted the snow prediction as a joke while Robert B. Thomas was sick in bed with the flu.
  • The way I've always understood it, when Thomas discovered the “error,” he destroyed all—or most of—the “snow” copies and reprinted the 1816 edition with the more conventional summer forecasts. It's said the word got out anyway, and during the winter and spring of that year, Thomas was repeatedly called upon to deny making such a ridiculous forecast for the following summer. Then, when it really did snow in July, he changed his tune and took full credit. “Told you so!” he allegedly said.

If the story is true, it is one of the earliest and best examples of a subtle skill my uncle always referred to as “almanacsmanship.”


The Best of The Old Farmer's Almanac: The First 200 Years


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Im not sure if all was real

Im not sure if all was real but I was told that July 63 there was an snowstorm that blanketed the Southern areas. It was a rough year for all they had to travel on foot being the snow so was so deep. Amazing to know of this transformation earth went thru.

Read DARK WINTER by John

Read DARK WINTER by John Casey. He writes about solar cycles and the affects on earth's weather. He specifically writes about 1816. He also writes about the cold cycle the planet is entering now. Interesting stuff.

Yes I have seen it snow

Yes I have seen it snow during a 4th of July parade in Pittsfield Ma. either in 1965 / 1966.. it was fantastic... but again it did stop within 30 minuets.

I actually have seen snow in

I actually have seen snow in August in my lifetime. In the mid 1960's (probably 1965 or 66), my aunt took us on a chair lift ride to the top of Killington one August afternoon. She rhapsodized about the view, "You can see 5 states and 2 countries." Half-way up the mountainside in open chair lifts, the snow was blowing hard enough to blind us. At the top of the mountain was 2 inches of snow, and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. We took the next chair down and arrived soaking wet at the lodge - an experience I'll never forget.

i reckon i remember when it

i reckon i remember when it snowed that summer. mhhm.