Farmers’ Almanac editor Peter Geiger holds the latest edition at Geiger in Lewiston on Wednesday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The latest edition of the Farmers’ Almanac will become available Monday, so now is your last chance to beat the legendary weather forecasters to the punch.

You might consider consulting with the throbbing corn on your foot or the aching tooth in your mouth — according to the Almanac itself, those aches and pains might signify the kind of drop in atmospheric pressure that precedes a storm.

Or you could go into your backyard and look to a banded woolly bear caterpillar to reveal the forecast — as the folklore goes, if the caterpillar’s orange band is narrow, the winter will be snowy. If the band is wide, a mild winter is on its way while an overly fuzzy caterpillar is a sure warning of a very cold winter.

All that lore and more can be found in this year’s almanac, but can you really count on it for predicting the nature of the coming seasons?

“We don’t use folklore in our weather forecasts,” said Sandi Duncan, managing editor at Geiger, which publishes the almanac.  But “people like to remember old sayings and lore that their parents, grandparents often recited, so whenever we share them they enjoy the flashback to memory lane. They also like to look at cues from nature to see if they are or aren’t accurate, which can be fun for children, as well.”

As always, Duncan and editor Peter Geiger refuse to spill their secrets for predicting the weather year after year. They are, however, willing to impart what’s in their forecast. And to be frank, it doesn’t look so hot.

“This winter is going to be full of thrills and chills,” is the way Geiger describes it. “It’s going to be a long ride on the Polar Coaster.”

The 2020 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

You heard right. The Almanac forecasters say winter will be marked by intense cold and precipitation, with extremes so severe they’re comparing it to the wildest of amusement park rides.

“With colder than normal temperatures in the Northeast and above-normal precipitation expected,” goes the official forecast, “our outlook forewarns of not only a good amount of snow, but also a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow, especially along the coast.”

According to Duncan, they’ve red-flagged a period in early January when monster snowstorms will roar over much of the country. The end of January, she said, will likely be haunted by intense cold — we’re talking temperatures as low as 40 below zero in some areas — that will last into February.

A whole mess of unpleasantness is expected to come our way and the almanac forecasters say it may stretch into April.

“It’s going to seem like a long, long ride,” Duncan said.

When can we expect this fearsome thrill ride to begin? It’s not as far off as you might hope.

“Fall will be wet and chilly,” Geiger said. “That will be apparent throughout October and November — lots of colder temps. Halloween will be very unsettled. The Polar Coaster really comes into gear in December with some snow but mixed with freezing precipitation — and then the most fun to be had will be in January and February and, as Sandi said, going through spring.”

“No free rides this winter,” Geiger said.

The Farmers’ Almanac has been around for more than 200 years. Its creators know that not everyone is going to be overjoyed by forecasts crammed full of cold and snow and icy extremes. Perhaps that’s why the Almanac has 200 pages and most of them are filled with cheerier news.

Want to know the best days to fish? Turn to Page 134, my friend, and keep your tackle box close at hand.

Looking for tips on growing tastier vegetables? A list of edible insects? The many uses of witch hazel? Tips on improving your eyesight? All of that is in there, just a few pages down from a planting chart and frost dates.

“The point of the almanac isn’t just the weather,” Geiger has said. “The point is empowering people to do things for themselves. My father used to say it was a guide to good living.”

Farmers’ Almanac editor Peter Geiger with the latest edition at Geiger in Lewiston on Wednesday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A quick scroll through the table of contents never fails to reveal a wide array of tips that will help keep your life in order and weird facts that will satisfy your curious brain.

“Unusual But Useful Ways to Use Potatoes” is in there along with “10 Cool Facts You Didn’t Know about Jellyfish” and “Weather Sayings You May Not Know.”

Starting on Page 72 you’ll find a compilation of “Fabulous Firsts.” Who made the first electric car and when did it roll onto the streets? Who made the first 911 call and when is the first REAL day of spring, anyway?

“Spring,” according to a passage on Page 69, “is when you feel like whistling even when your shoe is full of slush.”

Somewhere in there is a weirdly fascinating article on do-it-yourself cough drops. And of course, there are gardening tips and recipes and no end of ways to be happy and improve your life, in spite of the wretched weather forecast you read just minutes ago.

And if you’re STILL down about the idea of freezing cold whipping in to replace beautiful summertime warmth, there’s an article on Page 174 listing the benefits of cold weather: better sleep, better exercise and a break from pollen allergies.

“Embrace it,” suggested Duncan, “and enjoy the cold temperatures.”

Not buying it? Well then, turn to Page 60 where you’ll find an article called “Love it or Hate it,” which serves as a guide for those who want to move away to a place where the weather better suits them.

Can’t move away? Have to stay put and face the winter no matter how hard it gets? We feel your pain.

The bottom line is this. The Farmers’ Almanac warns of a long, hard winter to come. So does the woolly bear caterpillar, so do the wasps who built their nests way up high this summer. You can read all the riddles, puzzles and brainteasers (Page 70) you want or distract yourself with some tips on combating fruit flies (Page 46) but that won’t make the winter any less fierce. It will, however, make the present a little more interesting.

“Reading,” advises one of the “Philosofacts” on Page 69, “gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”


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