If you’re like many of us, you sit through the ten o’clock evening news, waiting for the weather forecast, and by the time the sports segment comes on, you realize you spaced right through the 3-D maps, Doppler radar, and the meteorologist in a suit who hypnotized you with terms like “la nina,” “inverted pressure system,” and “report from our school cam in Lone Tree.”
I call to my wife, “Hey, I’m hoping to get in the garden tomorrow. Did you catch the forecast?” The Sudoku puzzle in her lap and pen in her hand have been decoys. She’s asleep. I’d check my smart phone if I had one, and I’m not in the mood to fire up the internet, so I grab the faithful tome on the end table next to the couch. The Farmers’ Almanac should be able to help me out, I reckon. Folks throughout the country have relied on the Almanac for more than 200 years to give them sound advice.
Their headline predictions for the coming winter of 2013 seem a bit broad for my needs as it’s only August 31, so I look for other clues. Hmmm. Here’s one: “If your cat is snoring, expect foul weather.” We have no house cat and my wife is not even purring in her sleep, so I’m not sure that helps much. I look down the list. “A fog in August indicates a severe winter and plenty of snow.” It’s been too dry for any fog this summer, and I’m still not interested in winter. I need something more immediate.
This next adage might help. “Trembling of aspen leaves in calm weather indicates an approaching storm.” If only we had some aspen trees. We have an old oak tree in the front yard, and as I read on, I see something more promising, “If the oak is out before the ash, then we are in for a splash; but if the ash is out before the oak, we are in for a soak.”
I can’t remember what I had for supper let alone which trees leafed out earliest, but I like rhymes, so I continue with this set of weather predictors:
- Sounds traveling far and wide, a rainy day will betide.
- If it thunders on All Fool’s Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay.
- A cow with its tail to the west, makes weather the best; a cow with its tail to the east, makes weather the least.
Finally, something specific. Now I just need to walk down the lane to the pasture and see which way the cows are lying. But by the time I tie my laces, my wife is wide awake and asking me where I’m going in my boots and Homer Simpson boxer shorts. “Cows’ tails, huh. Hand me that Almanac,” she says. “I’ve heard that when readers are asked how well these old sayings do in predicting the weather, they get an 80% positive response. But when the scientists study the facts, it’s about a 50% rate. You need to know the weather for tomorrow? I’ll get you a coin to flip. Or wait. We’ve got cable. Let’s turn on the Weather Channel.”
She eventually hands the Almanac back to me, and it’s open to a page of quotes. The first one says, “There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense." by dan gogerty (photo from cutastic.com)
- Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, explains the famous publication and this winter’s weather predictions.
- The Weather Wizard—the man behind the Almanac's secret curtain—makes the forecasts for the Farmers’ Almanac. This article pulls back the curtain.
- As this link explains, for centuries, there have been stories about how animals help make predictions.
- And this “farmer’s wife blog” gives a list of predictions regarding farming and weather watching.