In 1792, during the Presidency of George Washington, Robert B. Thomas published the first issue of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The almanac was an instant success and by the second year of publication, circulation had skyrocketed to 9,000. At that time, it cost about nine cents.
Almanacs record and predict weather, the tides, sunrise and sunset, along with helpful information on when to plant what crops. Because there were several almanacs already in circulation, Thomas made sure his predictions were more accurate than any other publications.
Thomas based his accurate predictions (usually 80% correct) on a secret weather forecasting formula based on a complex series of natural cycles. In 1942, a German spy was arrested after being landed by submarine on Long Island. In his coat was a copy of the almanac,which the government believed was used for weather forecasts. Today, Thomas’ formula is kept safely in a box at the Almanac offices in New Hampshire.
The Almanac’s advice for August 15 is “If the first week of August is unusually warm, The winter will be white and long.” On August 15, 1975, the temperature soared to 107 degrees in Massachusetts. On December 20-22, 1975, Boston was hit with the greatest snowstorm in its history.
Don’t your wonder what your 1792 ancestors must have thought about using a book to predict weather?