Predicting Snow for the Summer of 1816

The Year Without a Summer

By Judson Hale
August 4, 2016
Mount Tambora Eruption

The dust from the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) caused a worldwide lowering of temperatures during the summer of 1816, when the Almanac, legend has it, inadvertently but correctly predicted snow for July.

Culver Pictures

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.”


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Snow in Summer

Dang I guess I am not a very good almanacker . For the past two years i have predicted Snow in June and it hasn't happened. But it sure was a cold spring last year and this year it was not the best one either. Ash from erupting volcanoes thousand of miles away affect the entire Earth's atmosphere and blocks the sun rays from getting to the ground to warm it. Think of it as Mother Nature's extreme SPF FORMULA. Also I read that if the Yellowstone Park basin ever erupted , that life as we know it on Earth might come if not entirely but sure darn close to the end. In the 1950's and 1960's the phrase Nuclear Winter had been thrown around if we had ever had a Nuclear war with all the dust brought up into the atmosphere from the detonations. Well maybe no Nuclear Winter now , but a Volcanic Winter could happen. Gee I hope that comment does not come true . But then I could be the one who says " I told you so " . LOL

Snow in July

I distinctly remember snow in 1966 in Grasslake, Michigan on July 5th... It did not last long, was completely melted in an hour. It was my birthday, and kids just don't forget or confuse that date! Of course, my parents swear they don't remember it...

Snow in July

In Newfoundland, it was not uncommon to have a snow fall in early June, but rarely, if ever into July...until THIS year...July 2nd, 2018. Gander got about an inch of the white stuff. What ever happened to global WARMING?

Snowmen for July 4th

We had snow in Wyoming on the 4th of July in the 60s (not sure of the year because I was too young to care!). I remember going to visit my grandmother and there were snowmen in people's yards.

Snow in July

I've seen it snow in the mountains of Wyoming in July.

We had snow on the Forth of July back in the 70's.

I don't remember the exact year. I was a teen. But it snowed on our Fourth of July Parade. We were running a 4-H booth selling drinks and snacks. We sold very little cold drinks but we ran out of coffee in short order.

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'm 72 and live in North

I'm 72 and live in North Adams and also remember that. Back then it was not uncommon to wear a parka to the fireworks. I also remember when we got 2 inches of snow on Mother's Day and it took out a lot of my early plants. I was living out on South Mountain Road in Pittsfield at the time so it had to be somewhere in the mid to late 70's. :-)

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.