Current Moon Phase

Waxing Crescent
2% of full

Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Category — Blog

Summer Weather Safety

Summer Weather Safety

Being outdoors when a massive thunderstorm approaches is a very scary thing. In 1975, I was on a camping trip with 14 boys and another counselor. We packed our equipment and headed to base camp when we rounded an island to be met with the most powerful thunder/ lightning storm I had ever seen. Not a good place to be with boys in aluminum boats and 9.9 hp motors. We scurried to the rocks, threw tarps over ourselves and waited it out. But, it was one of the most terrified moments I have ever been through.

It is also the reason I try to remind folks about the dangers of summer storms. Over a 30 years span, the average deaths attributed to lightning strikes is 70 per year. Thanks to great education efforts by NOAA and changes in how athletic events handle storms, we saw the fewest deaths in  2013 — only 23.

It’s not quite summer and already we have recorded 5 deaths — all men 40 years and older , and 3 of them were in Florida. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the US. The most recent case was working on a roof in Pompano Beach under clear skies when a single bolt struck him. It reminds me of a young female soccer player in Maine who, under clear skies, was killed by a bolt from a storm 10 miles away.

Be safe as you enjoy all that the summer outdoors has to offer. And check out some of our helpful lightning tips on our site.

Outdoor Safety for Summer
When is Lightning a Danger

1 Comment | Post a Comment »

A Carrot From Israel?

A Carrot From Israel?

The other day we were discussing where our food comes from with my Girl Scout troop. I decided to look at a few items in my kitchen. There was a kiwi from Italy, some strawberries from California, and a bag of carrots from Israel??!!

I couldn’t believe the carrots. The kiwi seemed a bit odd too, but what really through me off were the carrots. There are plenty of areas in this country where carrots can be grown pretty much year-round. So why then do we have to import them from a place halfway around the globe??

Obviously there must be a cost factor that makes sense for the vegetable buyer at my local grocery store, but when I stopped to think about it, how could it make sense? By time they pick the carrots, put them in bags, then boxes then ship them here —how could it cost less, and when was that carrot picked?

Last week here on Farmers’ Almanac’s web site we asked if you tried to buy or grow your vegetables locally. Many of you said you grew your own and frequented farmers markets when you could. The hard part of course is for areas that have very cold winters, as that makes growing food tough.  Thus the need to buy produce from your grocery store, but why do they import vegetables from such far away places?

After this little exploration of my kitchen, I went to the grocery store with the goal to only buy vegetables grown in the USA. It was a little tough.  I live in New Jersey so the gardening season is just beginning. Soon there will be some produce available at my grocery store that’s grown locally. I also bought a share in a local CSA and this week is my first pick up. I’m so excited to experiment with very locally grown food.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you can do when you want to eat healthy, not break the budget, and not buy produce that gets shipped from far off places. I do know that I’m going to be paying attention a lot more to where my carrots and other food come from and will try to keep my purchases to locally grown food in the summer and USA grown produce in the winter.

What do you do? Did you ever really look at the produce you have in your kitchen and where it came from?

3 Comments | Post a Comment »

Grow It Right

Grow It Right

While we get the greatest media exposure concerning our 2 year in advance weather predictions, the information we provide regarding planting (charts, special articles and videos), is what has the greatest impact on fans of the Farmers’ Almanac. As such. it is nice to hear from someone who uses the planting guide. Here is a comment we received last week worth sharing:

I just wanted to say, I am totally surprised. My grandparents and mother-in-law used to swear by planting by the moon. I have been starting my own plants for about 30 years now and I have never had plants not grow. This year I planted my tomatoes and eggplants and about a month later and they still had not done much growing. On a whim I looked at the date I planted them, compared them to the moon calendar in the Farmers’ Almanac; and can you believe it I planted all those seeds on a day that said bad planting day, do not plant anything on these days. I am a believer now and will be following the almanac from now on. Sincerely, Lisa

Over the years I have had many similar messages. Once, I received 5 large zucchinis.  This gardener planted some on the correct day and others on the “wrong” day. Only the row planted on “correct” time took and she wanted to share her wealth with me.  So many people are growing their own food that it is worth your time to engage our Planting By the Moon calendar. If you have an experience worth sharing, I’d love to hear your story.

3 Comments | Post a Comment »

Trifecta of Weather Forecasting

You may recall that when we released our 2014 edition last August, all of the talk related around our stormy prediction surrounding the first ever  SuperBowl game played in an outdoor, cold area stadium. The snow did come as predicted  (spared the event),  but I’d like to point out that we frequently make mention in the Farmers’ Almanac pages about other major sporting events that can be impacted by weather. This includes the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and the three horse races  in the Triple Crown.

We stand two for two at the moment.

#1. The Kentucky Derby has prided itself in never canceling a race in 140 years. It is the “race that always runs.” We said “stormy days and wet weather. Showers may linger in Louisville for Derby Day.” Sure enough they ran the race on a muddy track.

#2. Preakness — The race was held on May 17th.  It was extremely wet the prior day throughout the Northeast, but on Saturday it was bright and sunny.  (From the Farmers’ Almanac: May 16-19: Skies gradually clear; milder temperatures.  A dry track for the Preakness.)

#3. Belmont Stakes —Are you making wagers on the weather that day? We are calling for rainy/thundery/damp & cool weather for next month’s Belmont Stakes. Now that California Chrome will be shooting to become the first Triple Crown winner in many years, and a muddy track “might” be a factor, maybe it will impact the outcome.

If Caleb nails the third race, it will be our version of a weather trifecta. Stay tuned for the results on June 7th.

No Comments | Post a Comment »

Make Camping More Enjoyable With These Tips

Make Camping More Enjoyable With These Tips

After cooking a meal, fill a pan of water and leave it on the stove/fire, so the water will be warm enough for clean up.

Hang soap in a stocking or sock from a tree to keep it off the ground and clean.

Bring two coolers—one for drinks only and the other for food. This will help keep the food cooler from being opened and closed too many times.

Bring a throw rug or welcome mat to place in front of your tent/camper. Then make sure all campers wipe their feet before they enter.. A small broom and dustpan are a must too.

Always pack duct tape. It’s useful for many things.

Don’t overpack. Pots and pans can be used as mixing bowls to save room, and heavy duty aluminum foil can be used to cook vegetables and meats on or in the fire. (Use fingernail polish to mark foil dinners, as it won’t burn off.)

A crumpled ball of foil makes an excellent scouring pad for pots and pans.

To keep marshmallows from burning dip them in water before holding them over the flame.

Before you go, save clean, empty milk jugs, orange juice bottles, and 2-liter soda bottles. Fill them with water and freeze. They will work for both keeping food cold and for providing water to drink when they melt.

To save time and prep work, create a bin of essential camping items that you can keep packed and ready year-round.  Buy an extra set of pots and pans at a garage sale or rummage sale. Make sure the bin is rain and rodent proof.

While it’s best to cook on coals, sometimes you have to cook directly on open flames. For easier cleaning, rub the outside of your pots with dish soap. Allow it to dry and then cook with them. This will make the black soot come off easier in cleaning.

Plastic baggies are another must for camping. They can help keep things like matches and extra batteries clean and dry. Larger sizes can be used to mix cooking ingredients.

Pack cards, board games, and other nonelectric games to help you relax and enjoy your vacation outdoors.

4 Comments | Post a Comment »

Timely Pet Tips

Timely Pet Tips

Raw Skin? Think chamomile tea

Chamomile tea has a calming effect that helps skin irritations. Make a strong tea, pour it into a spray bottle, and then place it in the refrigerator. Once completely cool, spray on red and raw skin.

Bad Breath Go orange!

Carrots are a good way for dogs to help remove plaque on their teeth than can build up and cause smelly breath. Give your dog a carrot after he/she eats, and it should help.

Gum in Your Pet’s Hair?

Saturate the gum with olive oil. Then rub with your fingers to soften and comb it out. To remove olive oil,shampoo the dog as you normally would.


Reach for the vegetable shortening. Apply a dab of shortening to the affected areas and pry the burrs and stickers loose. You may want to wear gloves to avoid getting pricked.

Stop Accidents from Happening Again!
Dogs have a great sense of smell and therefore tend to have accidents in the same place. To keep your pet off this area, try cutting open a plastic garbage bag and covering the spot with plastic. Many say dogs don’t like the feel of plastic on their feet.




6 Comments | Post a Comment »

Haiti Revisted

Haiti Revisted

As you may recall, I had an opportunity to do relief work in Port au Prince Haiti two months after the January 2010 earthquake which leveled the city and killed 250,000 Haitians. As you might expect, it has been a long hard process to rebuild. The first year there were no stores, no equipment and most of the work was done by hand, chisel and hammer.

I have had the pleasure to be connected with the missions team of the South Lewiston Baptist Church who have a 9 year partnership with Pastor Nathan of Bethany Baptist Church in the heart of Port au Prince. The good news is that the city is coming alive. There are still many tents  but most streets are clear and some are actually paved. People are coming and going with a purpose. There is only one traffic light in a city of 980,000 people, so traffic is a nightmare, but with horns blowing, everyone seems to get around “safely.”

Here is a quick look at my 2014 nine day experience:

1.     We arrived to Pastor Nathan’s home to no water or electricity. A pipe was broken when the road was paved. For 6 months, he had to bring water in by the buckets. So our team made the repair (almost) before getting fined for making the repair. Fine paid and water was connected.  Neat system for the town.

2.     Not many creature comforts. The electricity is portioned out by grids. One never knows when it will come on or go off. The norm is to have power 3 — 4 hours a day. So, we crank on the diesel gas generator we bought last year to keep the lights on and fans blowing all night.

3.     Heat – it has been so cold this winter and spring that I thought I might enjoy a little heat. It was 98 every day and high 70s at night. Too much of a good thing for me.

4.     We moved hundreds of cement blocks, sifted sand, moved rock piles by buckets and wheelbarrow several times, laid a cement floor — all in an effort to rebuild a school and church “temporarily” damaged by a quake. What a great feeling to know that you are making a difference in lives.

5.     Sunday Services — my favorite moment of any trip is Sunday services. I don’t speak Creole and have no idea what is being said.  All I know is that the entire congregation is full of faith, hope and song. The raw emotion combined with an entire congregation dressed in suits and white dresses is in sharp contrast with the lack of earthly possessions.

I could go on and on about my experience, but just want to remind everyone to keep the Haitians your thoughts and prayers and to encourage all of you to find ways to help those less fortunate than ourselves out in anyway you can. It’s a rewarding experience knowing that you’ve done your part – however big or small- to help fellow people out.

Check out this video of my experience last week.

Haiti reminds me that where there is hope there is happiness. If you have visited Haiti, I’d love to hear your story.

No Comments | Post a Comment »

Why such a windy spring?

Why such a windy spring?

If  you live in the eastern half of the country, you’ve probably noticed that it has been unusually windy in recent weeks.  There have been stretches of several days in a row where the winds have been unusually strong and gusty.  The month of March is certainly well known for being a gusty month, but it seems that the pattern of late-winter has persisted all the way through April.  And now as we move into the month of May there doesn’t seem to be a let-up in what has become a seemingly endless series of chilly, blustery days.  What’s going on here?

If you look at the upper-levels of the atmosphere and check out the prevailing winds above 18,000-feet, meteorologists will tell you that we have been looked into a pattern where there has been a persistent trough of low pressure — a sort of buckling of the normal west-to-east configuration of the high level jet stream winds over the eastern part of the country — while over the West, there has been a huge upper level ridge of high pressure.

What has been happening over the past couple of months is that storms have been sliding south and east from western Canada along that big high pressure ridge in the west.  As these systems curve to the east, they interact with that trough of low pressure in the East.  The result?  These otherwise small, fast moving and innocuous storms — meteorologists call then “clipper systems” tend to slow down and get stronger and as a result, as they intensify their circulation field gets broader.

If you looked at a weather map at those squiggly lines — forecasters call them isobars (lines of equal air pressure) it would almost seem that when looking at storms undergoing intensification — it looks on the weather map that you’re looking at the inside of a wristwatch where the mainspring has been tightened a bit too much. Meteorologists would say that the pressure gradient has increased — the isobars have gotten closer together and as a result the winds have correspondingly increased as well.

In many cases over the past couple of months, as such storms have moved off the Atlantic Seaboard, they have evolved into some rather potent “stemwinders” and have back lashed many eastern cities with gusty winds.  So long as the trough remains in place over the East, the chilly, gusty pattern will likely continue.  How much longer will that continuance be?

It might be a while longer.  According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the long range outlook taking us through May 13 indicates below normal temperatures . . . and with them, the likelihood of a few more brisk/blustery days, across the Northern Tier of the US, going east into New England.  Hopefully it will start warming up towards mid May.

Until then . . . hold on to your hats!

2 Comments | Post a Comment »

2014 — The Year of Storms

2014 — The Year of Storms

This winter was tough. And now this spring is proving to be difficult as well. These past few days of extreme weather have caused havoc, deaths, and destruction. Today there are flood warnings, thunderstorm warnings, and ongoing tornado threats.

Tornadoes occur all over the Earth and have been documented in every state in the United States as well as every continent except Antarctica.  However, the US has the unfortunate record of having the most strongest, frequent, and violent tornadoes in the world.  This is mostly because of the size of the country and its unique geography. For the past ten years, this country has experienced on average over 1,000 tornadoes per year. Canada averages about 100 tornadoes a year.

Spring and fall are peak seasons for tornadoes since it’s the time when the weather is trying to change from cold to warm and warm to cool, which means more chances of cooler air colliding with warmer air.

Whether you live in an area where violent tornadoes are common or not, this is an extreme weather time of year. Here are a few timely articles on staying safe during violent spring storms.

Tornado Survival Tips

Flash Flood Safety

Our thoughts go out to all those who have lost so much already during these recent storms. Stay safe.

No Comments | Post a Comment »

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.