Every year, folks ask us … what’s our secret to predicting the long-range weather? The Old Farmer’s Almanac—America’s oldest and most popular almanac—uses a unique, age-old formula that’s traditionally 80% accurate. Learn more about it here.
Some think our forecasts are derived from folklore. According to weather lore, a long, hard winter can be predicted by lots of acorns, tough apple skins, and thick corn husks, while a mild one can be predicted by lower bees nests and thin onion skins. Have you ever looked inside a persimmon seed? It may give you clues, too!
While we can neither confirm nor deny the reliability of this folklore, we do know that, centuries ago, folks observed such phenomena and noticed corresponding, repeating weather patterns … so at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we allow that there just might be some truth to it! However, folklore does not figure into the creation of weather forecasts in our annual almanac.
We’ve Predicted the Weather Since George Washington Was President
Our weather forecast methodology stems from a secret formula that was devised by our founder, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792, when George Washington was president. And believe it or not, it has nothing to do acorns, apples, or persimmons!
Thomas believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun. Notes about his formula are locked in a black box in our offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.
Disciplines in Long-Range Predictions
Over the years, we have refined and enhanced that formula with state-of-the-art technology and modern scientific calculations. We employ three scientific disciplines to make our long-range predictions:
- solar science, the study of sunspots and other solar activity;
- climatology, the study of prevailing weather patterns; and
- meteorology, the study of the atmosphere.
We predict weather trends and events by comparing solar patterns and historical weather conditions with current solar activity.
Although neither we nor any other forecasters have as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict the weather with total accuracy, our results are often very close to our traditional claim of 80 percent.
Deviations From Averages
It’s important to understand that our forecasts emphasize temperature and precipitation deviations from averages, or normals. These are based on 30-year statistical averages prepared by government meteorological agencies and updated every 10 years. The most recent tabulations span the period 1981 through 2010.
Get Weather Predictions for 2019!
Our 2018–2019 long-range weather predictions are now available in the new 2019 Almanac!
Discover what’s in store. Find 12 months of weather predictions and so much more.
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