Get ready for another snowy winter!

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Concerned about high heating costs? The forecasters at The Old Farmers Almanac have some good news and bad news temperatures overall for this winter are expected to be milder than normal for western Massachusetts, but December and January are expected to have bitter cold and heavy snow.

Janice Stillman, the editor of the Almanac "the calendar of the heavens" added that the region should also expect heavy snow in early March.

The Almanac, which was officially released Sept. 13, has been published since 1792 and uses a combination of conventional weather prediction techniques as well as a study of sunspots developed by The Almanac's founder Robert B. Thomas.

Stillman spoke to Reminder Publications recently and said that while the book's predictions have an average of 80 percent correct, she did admit the forecast for western Massachusetts this past winter had an accuracy rate of only about 70 percent due to a colder March and not as snowy as expected.

Once a valuable resource for farmers The Almanac includes valuable information about when to plant crops, among its many reference pages in the age of the Internet, readers still find the Almanac useful and fun.

Yankee Publishing Company prints 3.5 million copies of The Almanac, which are used by 18 million readers, Stillman said.

Weather, tides, and the signs of the moon are not the only predictions in the annual.

Stillman noted that the "Tastes & Trends" section is particularly interesting to assemble, as the writer must be ahead of trends in order to predict them.

"It's a bit of a challenge," she said and added that right now the writers are busy working on the 2007 Almanac's trend article.

What are some of those predictions? The Almanac reports that robots should be doing more domestic chores by the year 2007. Over four million mechanized helpmates should be in use by then.

Chickens may be the next big pet craze. Apparently chickens as pets is a growing trend in the United Kingdom and the fad might cross the Atlantic. Stillman said a recent articles in the New York Times noted that more and more children as raising chicken as pets.

Everything old is new again, though, as Stillman said an entry in an 1865 edition of The Almanac noted that chickens could be taught to answer to a name and walk on a leach like a dog.

Another prediction is that more and more couples will have long distance married relationships in order to pursue their careers.

Stillman said the writers assigned to that section and others must find items with "shelf life" for the section that will seem fresh all year long as readers use The Almanac.

"People use the book for different things," Stillman said.

A new addition to The Almanac line is The Old Farmers' Almanac for Kids, a paperback book that has the same eclectic flavor of articles on history, weather and agriculture, among other subjects. There are no predictions, though, and a web site offers more activities and features.

Speaking of predictions, what about next summer? According to The Almanac's predictions, expect hot and dry weather.

Reminder Publications, Inc. 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 • Tel: 413.525.6661 • Fax 413.525.5882

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