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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Category — Blog

2014 Canadian Winter Review. We Told You So!

2014 Canadian Winter Review. We Told You So!

“Piercing Cold;” “Biting Cold”; “Bitterly Cold”; “Cold, Wet, & White.” These are some of the terms we used to define last winter’s weather, supporting our statement that “The Days of Shivery are Back!”

And Shiver We Did!
Almanac readers and the media agreed that our predictions and warnings of a very cold and snowy winter were on target. With the exception of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon, it was an incredibly cold winter.

Below-average temperatures dominated across much of North America during the winter of 2013–2014. Some locations experienced temperatures as low as 5°C below the 1981–2010 average. Last year the infamous polar vortex frequently plunged temperatures to -20°C or lower, and an active storm track covered many cities and towns under mounds of snow. A cold and snowy pattern persisted into early spring.

The Cold, Hard Facts
The three coldest months—December, January, and February—are regarded as “meteorological winter.” The winter of 2013–14 kicked off in December with parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba experiencing temperatures 4 to 5.6°C below normal.

In January, a most interesting weather dichotomy developed. Across western Canada it was unseasonably warm with temperatures ranging from 4 to 11°C above normal. Meanwhile over eastern Canada, temperatures averaged 1/2 to 1°C below normal.

On to February and old man winter reasserted himself, bringing below-normal temperatures to more than 90% of Canada. With arctic air stalling over much of North America, temperatures in the Arctic were generally warmer than normal in February. The only section of the nation that experienced milder-than-normal temperatures was in the northern extremity of North America over the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Compared to seasonal norms, the coldest place in Earth’s atmosphere in February was over the southwestern corner of Canada’s Saskatchewan province near the town of Eston, where temperatures were as much as 4.7°C cooler than seasonal norms.

And the persistent cold during the winter caused 91% of the Great Lakes to be frozen by early March, the second largest ice cover on record.

How Our Forecasts Fared
We had warned of rain, ice, and snow for Ontario by Christmas Eve as mild air from the south overran cold air from the north, but the wintry precipitation arrived a few days ahead of schedule. Hydro One, which serves mostly rural areas, reported over 130,000 power outages at the height of the storm. The areas particularly hard hit include areas along the shores of Lake Ontario. In Trenton, which lies just east of the Greater Toronto Area, there was a reported 3cm of ice accumulation on the ground. The ice accumulation across southern and eastern Ontario was severe enough to result in widespread power outages due to fallen trees and branches, and numerous vehicle pile-ups on Highway 401. The town of Woolwich declared a state of emergency on December 22nd after it was determined that they would be without power for at least 24 hours. Elsewhere in Ontario, thousands of customers remained without power well after Christmas Day. Hundreds of thousands of Toronto residents woke up without electricity on December 22nd, after an overnight ice storm knocked down trees and power lines, causing outages across the city.

We were right on target with our forecast of a wintry coastal system for Quebec and the Maritimes in the January 1st–3rd timeframe. Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador saw up to 40cm of snow, while Nova Scotia received as much as 20cm.

In fairness, we were not “spot on” everywhere. Over British Columbia we were banking overall on a drier-than-normal winter. That forecast looked awfully good during December, but during January and February the dry weather abruptly ended with a series of storms moving in from the Pacific. Interestingly, however, one of the more significant of storms, that of January 9th–10th, was also a spot-on forecast for us. Those winter storms were welcome news for B.C. ski resorts which had been suffering through one of the barest winters in recent memory.

For even more information on how we did and what’s in store, order the 2015 Canadian edition, on sale now!

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Blame It On The Jet Stream

Blame It On The Jet Stream

With a little more than a month left until the official end of summer (but only 2 weeks until Labor Day), some of us may be wondering – what’s up with this summer’s weather?!

This morning it was a cool 52 degrees when I went for a walk at 6:00 a.m. in NJ.  It was beautiful but unusual.  In fact, I think I have only put my air conditioner on this summer for about 10 days, which I’m not complaining about, but it is a bit odd.

Well you can blame this cooler but enjoyable weather on the East Coast, and warmer than usual weather in the Pacific Northwest, on the jet stream. Its path this summer has thrown the normal summer heat off.  Many love it while others are wishing for temperatures above 90.

So does this mean anything for the winter ahead?

According to lore, “If a cold August follows a hot July, it foretells of a winter hard and dry.” (Of course July wasn’t too hot in many places.) But many meteorologists point out that it’s just the path of the jet stream and that it has nothing to do with the winter weather ahead.

But if you’re really interested in finding out just how cold this winter will be, we are releasing the Farmers’ Almanac’s official winter outlook next week. So stay tuned and in the meantime, check out this informative article on what the jet stream is.

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Get Outside And Look Up At Neptune

Get Outside And Look Up At Neptune

“Get Outside!”

Ever utter those words to your kids?  Or maybe even to yourself as you look longingly out the window while at work or finishing up chores?

Well this week there have been some great reasons to get outside and look up! The beginning of this week featured the Perseid meteor showers, and starting on August 14th, the planet Neptune will be the brightest and best seen during early mornings until August 28, 2014.

Neptune is hard to spot with the naked eye but you should be able to view it through binoculars or a telescope and even see its blue tint. In 2014, Neptune can be found near the constellation Aquarius.

Learn more about Neptune including how it came to be named and how many moons it really has here.

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Summer’s Supermoon

Summer’s Supermoon

Twice each month, the Sun, Earth and Moon form a straight (or nearly straight) line in space, called a “syzygy.”  At these times, the Moon is either at full or new phase and we can expect tides to run somewhat higher than normal.  Twice each year, once at full and once at new phase, the Moon will also be very near perigee, its closest point to the Earth.  These perigee Moons can produce the highest tides of the year.

On August 10th at 2 p.m. EDT, the Moon will arrive at its closest point to the Earth in 2014:  a perigee distance of 221,765 miles away.  Just nine minutes later, the Moon will officially turn full.  Though full Moon theoretically lasts just a moment, the moment is imperceptible to ordinary observation, and for a day or two before and after most will speak of seeing the nearly full Moon as “full” (the shaded strip is so narrow, and changing in apparent width so slowly, that it is hard for the naked eye to tell whether it’s present or on which side it is).

The near coincidence of the August 10th full Moon with perigee will result in a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides.  Any coastal storm at sea around this time will almost certainly aggravate coastal flooding problems.  Such an extreme tide is known as a perigean spring tide, the word spring being derived from the German springen – to “spring up,” not a reference to the spring season.

Every month, “spring tides” occur when the Moon is full and new.  At these times the Moon and Sun form a line with the Earth, so their tidal effects add together.  (The Sun exerts a little less than half the tidal force of the Moon.) “Neap tides,” on the other hand, occur when the Moon is at first and last quarter and works cross-purposes with the Sun.  At these times tides are weak.

For those who are well versed in mathematics, tidal force varies as the inverse cube of an objects distance. This month the Moon is 12.2 percent closer at perigee than it was at its extreme apogee – its farthest point from Earth in 2014 – on July 27. Therefore, on August 10th, the Moon will exert about 42 percent more tidal force compared to the spring tides just two weeks earlier.

The 2014 Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada refers to the August 10th Moon as the “largest full Moon in 2014,” – in recent years, a popular connotation for a full Moon that coincides with perigee has been “Supermoon” – the variation of the Moon’s distance is not readily apparent to observers viewing the Moon directly.  To those living near the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, however, the rapid increase in the vertical tidal range of as much as 20 feet or more makes it quite obvious when the Moon is near perigee, whether the sky is clear or cloudy!

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It’s A Good Week To Explore Your Local Farmers Markets

It’s A Good Week To Explore Your Local Farmers Markets

Our country was founded on agriculture. Virtually everyone grew their own food for their families or sold it to merchants for resale. It is only fitting that August 3 – 9 is National Farmers Market Week.

At Farmers’ Almanac, we have long-championed growing your own food. We’ve offered advice on creating raised gardens in your yard, growing tomatoes on the balcony of a New York City apartment, or planting vegetables on top of a skyscraper in Chicago. There is something empowering about taking a seed and reaping the rewards a few weeks later.

In reality, many of us aren’t going to grow our own food or plant the full variety of produce that can be grown. That’s where community farmers markets come in. What started as a small effort is now 8,000+ strong throughout the United States. You can find farmers markets in major cities and small towns. In Lewiston, Maine, a farmers market sets up shop at our offices on Thursdays from 12 – 2 p.m. When you buy locally, you support local farm families, thus strengthening the community in which you live.

It is one thing to go through the produce section of your supermarket and quite another to visit a farmers market and see, feel, and smell the wide variety of items available. It brings out the child in us as we explore some greens that we never knew existed. Best of all, you can feed your family as well as we did centuries ago when we were all farmers.

So, this is National Farmers Market Week. Interested? Check out this link to find a market near you.


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Welcome, From The Farmers’ Almanac New Web Content Editor

Last month, when I first called my father down in Florida to tell him I was going to be the new Web Content Editor for the Farmers’ Almanac in Maine, he was elated. I don’t want to say more elated than I was, but it was pretty close. Because like me, Dad is a big fan of all things weather related. He proudly passed to me (what I like to call) the weather “gene,” and we talk incessantly about clouds, storms and temperatures. Our TVs are always tuned to the same weather-related channels, we swoon over the bells and whistles of various portable weather radios, we report in regularly on our conflicting regional climates, and we know which corner of our houses is the southwest in case of a tornado.

Here’s how the conversation went:

ME:    Hi Dad! I start my new job at the Farmers’ Almanac soon! Pretty exciting, eh?
DAD: This is fabulous! You’ll be able to give me the inside scoop on Super Bowl weather (*muffled cheering*)!

Sadly, I didn’t get the football gene. So this definitely makes up for it.

In the short time I’ve been here, I have learned so much, and I’m honored to be working for such a great company. While I keep a print copy of Farmers’ Almanac in my car as a general rule (one of Dad’s rules, too), for various trivia night or star gazing emergencies, delivering Farmers’ Almanac content online is really a dream come true. I am responsible for opening up an entirely new and exciting world of information to others. Enabling others to receive Best Days at the click of a mouse? Thrilling (especially after I, myself, got a really bad haircut once, scheduling it on the wrong day). Empowering others with the online tools to create their very best gardens, to discover sustainable farming, to understand Moon phases, and test time-honored recipes, is truly exciting for me. I am also impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of our Facebook and Twitter fans, and I respect their loyalty to the Farmers’ Almanac. When they share with us that they, too, love all things weather, just like Dad and me, it makes me feel part of a very special family.

My goal is to ensure that those visiting our web site (, and signing up for our weekly newsletter, enjoy the wealth of fresh and useful content delivered right to their inboxes, which they can access instantly via their smartphones, home computers, or tablets. While nothing can replace the printed version of the Farmers’ Almanac, the synergy between it and our web site will provide a robust experience for all. You can never know too much, I always say. Knowledge is power.

I welcome any feedback or input on things you’d like to see online, topics you find most interesting, and of course, what’s the weather doing where you are?

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One Penny At A Time

One Penny At A Time

I think we are all born with characteristics that make us special. Here is a young hero story that works well with our Pennies 4 Profit article featured in the 2014 edition of  the Farmers’ Almanac.

The concept of our idea is:
•   A penny by itself is worthless.
•    Because pennies are of little value people toss them into drawers or jars.
•    If you collect enough pennies, there is value.

With your help we honored three non-profits with our donation of 50,000 pennies to their organizations. They included Rescue Mission of Roanoke Virginia, Forgotten Felines of Maine, and Liberty House for veterans in New Hampshire. We thought this was wonderful until I read about a young man in Brockton, Massachusetts. Eight-year-old Aidan Feeney has a determination to help the homeless of his community. How does he raise money? With pennies of course.

Aidan collects one penny at a time and then figures out how to do the most good. His mom, Karen, told me in an email that he is currently saving up for backpacks to fill with essentials for those in shelters.

“He recently turned in his jars and raised $331.58.  He plans on having party/cookout for them and any left over money will go toward the backpacks he plans to fill.  What Aidan and his pennies are showing those around him is that you’re never too small to make a difference and that’s what he plans on doing (for centuries according to him…).”

All year long I save change for my famous Halloween exploits. But, this year (and because of our pooling pennies initiative), I am keeping the pennies in a separate container. Come October 1st, my haul goes to Aidan for his efforts.

If you want to help send your pennies or funds to:

Aidan Feeney/Pennies for the Poor
C/O South Shore Community Church
119 Torrey Street
Brockton Ma

Kudos to Aidan.

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Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

To get the new edition of the Farmers’ Almanac! Of course :)

For fun, here are some of our favoirte chicken jokes. Try them out this weekend and report back. Favorite s:

On what side does a chicken have the most feathers?
The outside.

How do chickens dance?
Chick to chick.

Why couldn’t the hen find her eggs?
Because she mislaid them.

What’s the best kind of car to be driving when you want to play chicken?
A coupe.

What do you call a chicken crossing the road?
Poultry in motion.

Why didn’t the chicken skeleton cross the road?
Because she didn’t have enough guts.

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Saturday—A Full Supermoon

Saturday—A Full Supermoon

Full Moons tend to get a lot of attention. Especially here at the Farmers’ Almanac’s web site. This Saturday the full Moon will seem even bigger and perhaps brighter due to the fact that it’s not only full but also a “supermoon.”

A supermoon, simply stated, is when the Moon makes it closest approach to Earth, also called perigee. A supermoon occurs when the Moon is at least 90% of the way to its perigee position at the same time it is full or new. An extreme SuperMoon is when a full or new Moon happens at the same time the Moon is close to 100% perigee (happens in August).

2014 actually has five supermoons. The first was during the new moon of January 1, the second was on January 3, the third is July 12, and the next two are during the full moons of August (10) and September (8).

You should note that August’s full supermoon  on the 10th will be extra “super” or close because it occurs during the closest approach of the Moon to Earth.

July’s full Moon, also known as the Full Buck Moon, will be full at exactly 7:25 a.m. EDT, Saturday, July 12, 2014, but you may notice how large and full this moon looks all weekend. So get outside and check it out. Might be a great night for a nighttime boat ride or to try out your camera.

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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.