Our Unique Formula to Forecasting Long-Range Weather
August 12, 2022
As America’s oldest weather forecaster, The Old Farmer’s Almanac specializes in predicting extended forecasts—or what we call long-range weather. Discover our unique, age-old formula that’s based on three scientific disciplines. Plus, let’s talk about the question, “what is normal weather?”
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has predicted the weather since our founding in 1792—when George Washington was president!
Some think our long-range 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.
A Secret Weather Formula
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, wooly bear caterpillars, 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.
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.
What Is “Normal” Weather?
When you read the weather predictions in this Almanac (or listen to any TV or radio forecast), you may notice that we compare temperature and precipitation to what’s ” normal.” Most of us may think of the weather as what happened last year or the year prior. Our forecasts consider “normal” to be the 30-year average. We plan long-term and we think long-term.
New Climate Normals for 2023 Almanac
Every ten years the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI - formerly the National Climatic Data Center) calculates a new set of U.S. 30-year normals. Starting with the 2023 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the long-range predictions will be based on the new set of U.S. 30-year normals. This is a shift from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020.
What do the new normals say?
Warming from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020 is widespread, but not found everywhere across the continental U.S., either in geographic space or time of year, with recent cooling in the north central U.S.
Precipitation changes from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020 also vary considerably on a month-to-month basis, but are generally wetter in the central and eastern U.S.
The 2023 Old Farmer’s Almanac—America’s #1 Almanac—is now available to order in classic paperback, hardcover, and digital editions!
Always reliable and entertaining, this handy yellow book is a “true” Almanac—a calendar of the heavens, a time capsule of the year, and an essential reference that reads like a magazine. Always timely, topical, and distinctively “useful, with a pleasant degree of humor,” the Almanac is useful DAILY in all walks of life.
Now in its 231st year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is STILL the best-selling annual in the United States and Canada, thanks to readers from coast to coast! The longest-running periodical in America (since George Washington was president!), it’s a timeless guide to daily living. With our long-standing commitment to “new, useful, and entertaining matter,” you can count on your new edition to deliver a comprehensive and trustworthy guide to 2023.