Go Back > Urban Legends > Trivia

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01 July 2007, 10:58 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,653
Glasses Farmer's Almanac predicted California snowstorm

Comment: I have heard that the OLD FARMERS ALMANAC first become popular by
being the only almanac at that time to predict a summer snow storm in
Reply With Quote
Old 07 July 2007, 03:28 AM
Bonnie's Avatar
Bonnie Bonnie is offline
Join Date: 01 January 1970
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 148

From William A. Sherden's The Fortune Sellers: The Big Business of Buying and Selling Predictions (1997), pp. 49-50,

[The Old Farmer's] Almanac's accurate prediction of winter weather for July 13, 1916 was due to an extraordinary coincidence. Founding editor Thomas became ill just as the 1816 Almanac was going to print. A copy boy informed him that the prediction for July 13 was missing. "Put in anything you want," Thomas told him, so the boy inserted, "Rain, hail, and snow." Upon discovering the joke, Thomas destroyed most of the copies and spent considerable time denying the extreme forecast, which inevitably got into general circulation. But in New England on July 13, 1816, it did in fact "rain, hail and snow" -- unusual weather caused by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tamora in the East Indies. The volcano generated a cooling dust cloud that caused what is called the "Little Ice Age" in New England that summer, during which ponds and lakes never thawed. When the original "forecast" came true, Thomas changed his tune and declared, "I told you so." Judson Hale, the current editor of the Almanac, has called this scenario "one of the earliest and best examples of a subtle skill my uncle always referred to as 'Almanacmanship.'"
From Al Gore's Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (1993), p. 57,

In New England, there was widespread snow in June of 1816 and frost throughout the summer. The Old Farmer's Almanac became popular when a typographical error predicted snow in July 1816 -- and it happened.
From "Hardy Perennial," Time Magazine, 24 November 1940,

Fabulous was the Old Farmer's success in predicting diurnal and hebdomadal weather a year in advance. Legend has it that the publisher, pressed by a typesetter for a July 13 forecast, replied hastily: "Anything, anything." The impish employe set up "Rain, Hail and Snow." On July 13, sure enough, it rained, hailed and snowed.
From The Standard [Ogden, Utah], 30 October 1902, p. 2,

An almanac was established by Isaiah Thomas in Worcester, Mass., which gained and established an extraordinary repute in 1780 from the happy accident that, as it was being set up, one of the boys asked what should be placed against the 13th of July. Mr. Thomas, in careless haste, answered: "Anything! Anything" The lad, literally obedient, set up "Rain, hail and snow." The diligent readers were surprised, but when the day came the prediction was fulfilled -- it really did rain, hail and snow on the 13th of that July and the fortune of the almanac was made.
From "Weather-cocks," The Daily Evening Bulletin [San Francisco], 26 October 1870,

It is a legend of early New England history that when the printers boy, with provoking simplicity, asked the publisher of Thomas' Almanac what weather he should announce for the 13th of July, the teased and troubled editor replied with some vexation "put down rain, hail and snow, if you like." The boy prompted by mischief, (printer's devils are never prompted by stupidity,) obeyed orders; and sure enough, by a remarkable coincidence, there were in New England, that year, rain, hail and snow, on the 13th of July. The little scamp who followed copy so closely, established the reputation and made the fortune of the publishers of Thomas' Almanac.
From "Farmer's Almanac," The Farmer's Cabinet [Amherst, New Hampshire], 1 October 1846, p. 3,

It is said that this long noted Almanac first obtained its celebrity from its "prognostics" of the weather. In its early days, the author, while preparing copy for this particular department, as the printer was in haste to 'make up' its pages, sent his "devil" to him to know what should be put down against "Fourth of July" for the state of the weather at that time for the next year! The answer was, "A snow storm about these days, a little before or a little after!" It was inserted accordingly, -- and it so happened that year, that there was a sudden change of the weather, and a flurry of snow fell on the fourth of July, which fixed the fate of the Almanac as to its being "weather-wise," and celebrated for its correct calculations of the state of the weather in all future time. No other Almanac has lasted so long, or been so widely circulated. [1]
From Charles Daly's and John Kendrick's The Gallery of Literary Morceaux; Combining the Serious with the Lively, and the Gay with the Pathetic. Third ed. (London: W. Wilson, 1835), p. 5,

CHANCE. -- When Isaiah Thomas, the printer, of Massachusetts, was printing his Almanac for the year 1780, one of the boys asking him what he should put opposite the 13th of July. Mr. Thomas being engaged, replied, "Any thing, any thing." The boy returned to the office and set, "Rain, hail, and snow." The country was all amazement when the day arrived, for it actually rained, hailed and snowed violently. From that time Thomas's Almanac was in great demand.
From The Vermont Gazette [Bennington], 21 January 1823, p. 4,

It is said that, while the celebrated veteran of the Type, Isaiah Thomas, was printing his Almanac for the year 1780, one of the boys asked him what he should put opposite of the 18th of July, Mr. T. being engaged, replied, "any thing, any thing," the boy returned to the office and set rain hail and snow. The country was all amazement -- the day arrived when it actually rained, hailed and snowed violently. From that time Thomas' Almanacs were in great demand.
Given that early versions mention dates from the 18th century (e.g., 1780, but other forms from the period list 1788 and 1789), I think attributing this to an almanac published for 1816 is a more recent phenomenon.

By the way, no mention of wintry weather for July is to be found in Isaiah Thomas's almanacs for 1780, 1788, and 1789. I've also checked the Robert B. Thomas's Farmer's Almanack for 1816 and Isaiah Thomas, Jr.'s Town & Country Almanack, or Complete Farmer's
for 1816. Again, although that summer of 1816 was quite chilly, in 1815 neither Thomas made a "prediction" of an unseasonably cold July, 1816. In all cases, the predicted weather -- sometimes sultry and stormy -- was typical for summertime.

Bonnie "and the livin' is freezy" Taylor

[1] For curiosity's sake, here's an excerpt from "Boston," Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, 18 July 1829, p. 11,

Some of the Boston papers say that the late 4th of July was the only stormy one we ever had. This is incorrect. There was a snow storm, on that day, some thirty or forty years ago as far south as Pennsylvania.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 06:42 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.