LEWISTON, ME >> It’s that time of year again. Kids head back to school, the sun sets a little earlier, and, on August 14, 2017, the special 200th year edition of the Farmers’ Almanac and its highly anticipated long-range weather forecast will be released.

“Our winter outlook is a tradition that, for two centuries, has been celebrated with cheers and jeers,” said editor Peter Geiger, Philom, “depending on what type of winter activity you enjoy (building snowmen or sandcastles). Many people are hoping they’ll need their shovels, but others are content to wear their shorts all year-long.”

The Farmers’ Almanac, which bases its long-range forecast on a specific and reliable set of rules that were developed in 1818 by astronomer and mathematician David Young, offers 16 months of weather predictions in each edition, but the winter outlook is the one that readers think of first and foremost.

So Shorts or Shovels?

According to the 2018 Farmers’ Almanac, shovels may be more useful in most areas of the country. The Almanac summarizes this winter as “The Cold, The Dry, The Wet, and The Wild.”

What does this mean for your neck of the woods? Here’s the breakdown:

The Cold: What can be expected in the eastern and central parts of the country;

The Dry: The weather conditions predicted overall for winter in the western third of the country (which had an extremely wet winter last year);

The Wet: Refers to conditions in the southeast region of the country;

The Wild: Used to describe winter’s wrath in an area of the country that the Almanac calls “Arklatexoma,” (where Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma abut), as this region is predicted to see wild swings in winter weather conditions.

Of particular note, for those readers rooting for shovels, the Almanac is “red-flagging” the dates of January 20-23, February 4-7 an 16-19, and March 1-3 and 20-23, 2018, along the Atlantic Seaboard for some heavy winter precipitation. Good news for skiers and snow enthusiasts, but not-so-good-news for those looking to build sandcastles – maybe it’s a good time to book that tropical getaway.

“Being in the business of predicting long-range weather forecasts is exciting, worrisome and rewarding,” said managing editor Sandi Duncan, Philom. "Many of our readers rejoice when we predict cold and snowy conditions while others complain that it’s too cold and wet. Yet we have to stick by our predictions no matter what Mother Nature may throw at us. We do believe that we provide an invaluable, long-range outlook that helps people plan ahead.”

Testing the Farmers’ Almanac’s Formula

The 2018 Farmers’ Almanac makes note of the fact that last year’s winter weather threw a slight curve ball into its overall winter weather outlook, however, its predictions for “stormy and wet” were spot on, especially for readers in California. However both its editors and elusive weather prognosticator, Caleb Weatherbee, like to remind readers that predicting the weather, especially 2 years in advance, is an “inexact science” and “even other sources that predict tomorrow’s weather aren’t always 100 percent accurate.”

“The weather truly is something that remains mysterious in this day and age of high-tech, instant news,” shares Duncan, adding “reminding us that nature is even more in control than any of us.” This year’s edition of the Almanac goes on to state “while last-minute weather conditions sometimes come into play and throw an unexpected warm front into our long-range weather outlook, our predictions over time have been 80-85% accurate and continue to be a valuable planning tool for the year ahead.”

Other Thought-Provoking Tidbits

The 2018 Farmers’ Almanac is a special edition. It marks the publication’s 200th year in business. To celebrate, the Almanac editors once again dug into the archives and included 8-pages of “throwbacks” – original advice, tips, remedies and lore that give credence to the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

“The reprint of ‘Remember When’ on page 191 might put a smile on the faces of our readers who grew up in the 70s, while the story on ‘He Works, She Works’ from the 1980s may leave many wondering how much has really changed in the workplace,” states Duncan.

This edition’s new cover design connects the fact that while “farmers” is in the title of this annual publication, its readers live, visit, and vacation in cities, farms, and suburbs.

Other notable features include ways nature can help repel bugs and keep you healthy, as well as useful hacks for each of the seasons, top tips on ways to reduce food waste, and the winners of the Farmers’ Almanac’s Farmer of the Year contest and spinach recipe contest.

“The Farmers’ Almanac is a breath of fresh air in the stale noise of news today,” says Geiger, adding “we are confident our readers are going to find this year’s edition amusing, intriguing, and extremely useful for learning how to reconnect with nature and live a more self-sufficient and rewarding lifestyle.”

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