- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

DUBLIN, N.H. - The leaves are about to change, the geese are packing for flights south and a little yellow magazine with a hole in the corner is hitting the newsstands, just as it has for the past 213 years.

If the Old Farmer’s Almanac and its traditional “80 percent” accurate weather forecasts are on the mark, residents of the Northeast should brace for a winter that is colder and snowier than normal.

“It’s going to be a tough winter,” editor Janice Stillman said, “so get the shovels ready, get the mittens out, stoke the fire.”

The 2006 edition of the old-time almanac was released Tuesday. Using a secret formula based on sunspots, weather patterns and meteorology, the almanac points to a milder-than-normal winter in the Southwest, with a warmer-than-normal summer in most areas, except the Midwest and the Southeast.

In an eerie coincidence, the almanac features a story about an American city devastated by a natural disaster and its aftermath. The anniversary story about the great San Francisco earthquake, 100 years ago in April, comes as the dead from Hurricane Katrina are still being counted.

As with Katrina, the initial calamity did not cause most of the deaths. The storm surge and levee breaks devastated New Orleans. In San Francisco, it was fires after the shaking stopped.

Miss Stillman said she included the anniversary piece because she was taken by the earthquake story’s tales of survival and “the way people pull together and support each other through tragedies and challenges like this.”

Published since 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is North America’s oldest continuously published periodical. Miss Stillman said its sense of continuity keeps it popular.

“It’s a tradition in the midst of all kinds of good news and bad news, it’s reliable … and it reminds you of what went before, just how we all fit,” she said.

The magazine still contains astronomical information and tide charts so accurate that the government considered banning them during World War II, fearing they would help German spies.

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