The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2016 by Old Farmerâ€™s Almanac
Readers consistently tell us that â€œweatherâ€ is the #1 reason they read this Almanac. It has been this way for centuries, possibly due in part to a weather forecast that we made (or maybe didn’t make) 200 years ago.
Nobody expected what actually happened.
Snow fell during July and August of 1816 in New England and parts of Canada.
The diary of Rev. Thomas Robbins of East Windsor, Connecticut, tells of a foot of snow in the Berkshires in June.
In July, heavy frosts and ice storms occurred. On the 4th, Caleb Emery of Lyman, New Hampshire, visited a well that was completely frozen over 8 feet belowground; it remained that way until July 25.
The region’s corn crop, except where near ponds or the ocean, failed.
So many birds froze that few were seen in New England for 3 years.
In the history books, the period is referred to as â€œthe year without a summerâ€ and â€œthe cold summer of 1816.â€ Its cause was eventually shown to have been an 1815 volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in what was then the Dutch East Indies. This event had left volcanic dust circling the globe, lowering temperatures as much as several degrees and resulting in snow. Such an eruption would explain the appearance of the Sun in 1816 as â€œin a cloud of smoke,â€ as described in the American Magazine of History.
But did the Almanac predict this weather? We still get questions about this, and we’ve had an eye out for copies of that 1816 edition. Several have been found, but none has a snow prediction for that summer.
As the story goes, the printer inserted a â€œsnowâ€ prediction into the 1816 edition as a joke while Almanac founder Robert B. Thomas was sick in bed with the flu. When Thomas discovered the â€œerror,â€ he destroyed allâ€”or maybe most ofâ€”the â€œsnowâ€ copies and had the 1816 Almanac reprinted with the more conventional forecast. It’s said that word got out anyway, and during the early months of that year, Thomas repeatedly had to deny making such a ridiculous forecast. Then, when it really did snow in July, he changed his tune and took full credit. â€œTold you so!â€ he allegedly said.
If the story is true, it’s a good example of what this Almanac’s 11th editor, Robb Sagendorph, always referred to as â€œalmanacsmanship.â€ Today, our meteorologist, not the printer, makes the weather predictions. Almanacsmanship goes into all of the other pages.
â€“J. S., June 2015
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