Whenever I think about the weather predictions offered up annually in the Old Farmer's Almanac, I think about a piece I read years ago that said something to the effect of their forecasting being to meteorology what astrology is to astronomy.

That may ruffle some feathers, although I don't believe that people who are adherents to the prognostication of almanacs are the angry sort of folks. People who live their lives according to the zodiac may be a different story.

Not to be confused with the Farmer's Almanac, which is the new kid on the block compared to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the Old Farmer's Almanac has, according to their website, been at this weather prediction game since 1792 (229 years). The Farmer's Almanac is the relative newcomer, publishing their first almanac in 1818, the year Illinois became a state.

You may be wondering how a publication can possibly accurately predict the weather months in advance when modern meteorology struggles to come up with an accurate 5-day forecast. It's okay, you're not the only one who has pondered that one. The Old Farmer's Almanac website says that their founder, a guy named Robert B. Thomas, "believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun."

They say they've since taken his secret weather-forecasting formula (which they say is kept locked in a metal box at their home offices in New Hampshire) and refined it to include:

  • solar science, the study of sunspots and other solar activity
  • climatology, the study of prevailing weather patterns
  • meteorology, the study of the atmosphere

Both The Old Farmer's Almanac and the Farmer's Almanac claim to have an 80-85 percent accuracy rate on their weather forecasting, but Popular Mechanics says 80-85% is a little on the high side:

The Almanacs say they can predict weather with around 80 percent accuracy, a University of Illinois study disagreed, saying the Almanac was only 52 percent accurate—which is essentially random chance.

Alright, let's get back to the purpose behind all of this information. What does the Old Farmer's Almanac say about Rockford's summer weather?

They say the Rockford area and the rest of Northern Illinois should expect a cool and dry summer, while Southern Illinois is looking at a cool and wet summer season. The Farmer's Almanac, on the other hand, says that Illinoisans should expect a warm, humid summer with quite a bit of thunderstorm activity.

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