Loading... Please wait...

Cloudy with a Chance of Rain

One of a kind HT2706 by Jean Eugene Remy

It is a blustery day in my corner of the world and the weather can’t seem to settle on any one thing.  Dark clouds sail overhead, opening up occasionally to spill a little rain. Then they scurry on, and the sun makes a brief appearance, not bothering to stay long enough to warm up much of anything before it tucks itself back behind another onrushing cloudbank. There was a saying back in the Midwestern town where I grew up, something along the lines of, “If you don’t like the weather, just stick around for a half an hour.  It’ll change.”  Though I am far removed from there in both space and time, it is an apt description of what is going on over my head at the moment. What kind of audacity does it take to try to predict the weather, anyway?

The audacity of such as Robert B. Thomas, for one, who in 1792 began publishing what was then known as “The Farmer’s Almanac.” By studying solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns, Thomas used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, still in use today and kept under lock and key in a black tin box at the “Old Farmer’s” offices. Realizing the potential benefit of reliable weather information to the burgeoning agrarian population of the newly founded United States, Thomas set out to create an almanac that, “strives to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.” In 1848, John Jenks succeeded Robert Thomas’ 50-year tenure and renamed the publication, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” reasoning that it had earned the title by outlasting numerous other upstarts who had entered the field and departed again.

Over time, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” has had its moments of historical note.  Take for instance it’s being cited in the case against William “Duff” Armstrong by his defense attorney, who was none other than

Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln used an almanac to refute the testimony of Charles Allen, an eyewitness who claimed he had observed the crime in progress “by the light of the moon”. The almanac stated that not only was the moon in the first quarter, but it was riding “low” on the horizon, about to set, thus laying to question the veracity of Allen’s statement. (“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” proudly claims their part in the story, and though it cannot be absolutely ascertained that an “Old Farmer’s” was Lincoln’s source, there is little evidence to the contrary, and thereby it remains solidly in the company lore.) Years later, during World War II, a Nazi spy was apprehended with a copy of

“Blowin’ in the Wind” RND298 by Joseph Jean Peterson

“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” in his pocket. From 1943 through 1945, to comply with the U.S. Office of Censorship’s voluntary Code of Wartime Practices for press and radio, the Almanac featured weather indications rather than forecasts. This allowed the Almanac to maintain its perfect record of continuous publication.

And so how good are the “Old Farmer’s” prognostications, made as much as 18 months in advance?  In addition to Robert Thomas’ initial formula, state-of-the-art technologies are now employed in solar science, climatology (the study of weather patterns) and meteorology. (the study of the atmosphere) Forecasts emphasize temperature and precipitation deviations based on 30-year statistical averages compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By “Old Farmer’s” own assessment their forecasts are 80 per cent accurate, though independent observers have judged them to be a whopping two per cent better than a random guess.

Think it will warm up tomorrow?

Sign up for our newsletter

  • Information

View Cart Go To Checkout