By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
I am frequently under the weather, but I seldom know whether I will weather the storm that forecasters have forecast, which is why I can’t predict what kind of weather I will be under.
Still, as Bob Dylan famously sang, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, which is fine with me because I am, according to people who aren’t even weathermen, full of hot air.
So I recently spoke with the only guy in America who seems to know what the weather will be, not only tomorrow but as far ahead as two years from now.
He is Pete Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, the annual (since 1818) publication that correctly predicted the cold air that froze my shorts last winter.
“You should have worn long underwear,” Geiger said from the Almanac’s office in Lewiston, Maine, which is often chilly (the town, not the office, which is heated) even without the polar vortex that is expected to blanket the country again this winter.
“I guess I should have a blanket, too,” I said.
“It would be a good idea,” replied Geiger, who proudly added that the Almanac’s weather forecasts are up to 85 percent accurate. “We don’t have a groundhog,” he noted. “And we don’t use computers.”
Instead, said Geiger, the forecasts are based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you,” he said. “It’s a secret.”
What Geiger could tell me was that the Farmers’ Almanac relies, in part, on sunspots to help predict the weather. “And we almost always get it right,” he said, “so that means we are sunspot on.”
Geiger also predicted that he will live to a ripe old age because his father, Ray, was the editor of the Farmers’ Almanac from 1935 to 1994, when he died at 83.
“No editor in the history of the Almanac has died younger than that,” said Geiger, 63, who took over from his dad and has been the editor for 20 years. “It’s my insurance policy.”
“Instead of sunspots,” I offered, “you can use liver spots.”
“I spot a trend,” said Geiger, adding that the Farmers’ Almanac is “a guide to good living” and that the publication and its website, farmersalmanac.com, have “lots of great stuff.”
Nonetheless, goes the old saying, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
“We try,” said Geiger.
“Try this,” I said. “How come all these TV weather forecasters have satellites and computers and other sophisticated equipment and most of the time they still can’t get it right?”
“I don’t know,” Geiger replied. “They ought to use woolly bear caterpillars and persimmon seeds.”
“And why,” I continued, “do they use all this silly jargon? They say things like ‘partly’ and ‘variable.’ It’s just to cover their behinds, isn’t it? And what’s a ‘forecast model’?”
“Vanna White,” Geiger guessed.
“And how about ‘heat index values’?” I wanted to know.
“I never heard of that one,” Geiger admitted.
“Do you know what all meteorologists should have?” I said.
“What?” said Geiger.
“A window,” I said. “Then they could just look outside and tell us what it’s doing.”
“Or maybe,” Geiger suggested, “they could use the Farmers’ Almanac.”
“What’s your favorite season?” I asked.
“Fall,” Geiger responded.
“My favorite Season,” I said, “is Frankie Valli.”
Geiger said he also likes winter, but that he is getting “sick of it earlier” every year. “When we forecast a long one,” he said, “people in town will high-five me. By March, they’re booing me.”
According to the Almanac’s forecast, he won’t get as many boos this winter, even though “shovelry and shivery” will be the bywords.
“It won’t be as bad as last year,” Geiger predicted, “but get out your shovel and be prepared to shiver. And that,” he added, “is no snow job.”
Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima