Rain & Shine: The Almanac & Climate Change

Nov 27, 2020

The Old Farmer's Almanac has been sharing farming and homesteading tips and offering weather predictions since the 1700’s. While it is unclear exactly how they make their weather predictions, an answer to a listener's question helps us see that what is clear is that climate change is making weather much more variable and extreme and so prediction methodologies based primarily on historical weather patterns are becoming less reliable.

Weather is what occurs today: how hot it gets, how cold, how humid, how windy, the UV radiation index (how strong the sun is) etc. Climate is the average of weather over long periods of time, ten, to hundreds, to millions of years. Another way to think about it is, when we talk about weather we are talking about what's going on today or tomorrow, or maybe 5 days out. When we talk about climate we are talking about average trends that we can track over time and which are measured cumulatively.

Climate change does not mean that cold days don't happen. In fact, because of shifts in the polar vortex caused by a destabilized jet stream, some parts of the world may see more extreme cold!  What an increasing average temperature does mean that we are seeing warmer days more frequently and increasingly over time. Predicting weather is extremely important to farmers and a whole host of other industries and luckily modern weather predictions have gotten much better  than the 50% accuracy that Farmers Almanac has show.Real time satellite and weather station data from around the world allows modern forecasting to be up to 90% accurate within a five day window.

Modern weather applications that are used widely by farmers include: Custom Weather Alert, Radar Scope, Weather Underground, Dark Sky, Weather Live,  and NOAA Weather Radar.

How reliable are weather forecasts? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dont Trust The Farmers Almanac for Weather Predictions, Popular Mechanics
Testing the Farmers Almanac, John E. Walsh and David Allen
Top Ten Weather Apps for Farmers