Bad Winter Ahead? The Farmer’s Almanac Ends in Mid-February with the Forecast “And The Ice Takes Us”
CHICAGO — As the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, Chicagoans are asking that age-old question: “How totally boned are we going to be this Winter?” Well, according to their 2019-2020 Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Midwest edition, the Farmers’ Almanac seems to say “majorly!” The quaint long-range weather prediction periodical—published continuously since 1818—has a grim forecast for the Upper Illinois region, so be sure to bundle up!
Fans of the metrological digest have no doubt noticed this newest edition—which also contains a list of “Pies You Must Tries” and a 500 word op-ed imploring Americans to buy more wooden furniture—predicts a colder, snowier Winter than we’ve ever seen. Their entry for the weather in mid February 2020 simply says “and the ice takes us,” and the remaining forty-six pages of the guide are completely blank, save for some tear-stains.
“I always pick up a copy of the Farmers’ Almanac,” said Alan Easternberg, a local dentish, “I love to plant beans—any kind, really—and I always follow the guide’s advice on best planting times and general musing about how cool it is to live in places where ducks outnumber people. I was pretty rattled by their prediction that we’d all freeze to death and Chicago would be our icy tomb. They’re usually right, so I’m taking this pretty seriously. I already started some beans in the basement.”
Some have suggested that the forecast of “and the ice takes us” could be interpreted several ways. Cary Tillman, 23, a veterinary technician and “urban farming enthusiast,” sees a brighter side to “and the ice takes us.” “How do we know ‘and the ice takes us’ is a bad thing? Maybe the ice takes us somewhere nice? Like a warmer place, or something. I’m just trying to stay positive here. Maybe an Ice Jesus is coming. Maybe it’s a misprint, and it meant to say ‘and the ice makes us,’ like better people or something.”
Others readers insist this must be a mistake, and that the famously accurate weatherbook is simply wrong that life around Lake Michigan will be extinguished by a lethal cold snap mid-February. Harriet Curte, 95, retired, has been a reader of the guide since she “Was eight and had to get a job on her family’s root farm,” but still doubts the guide’s pronouncement that an icy end is coming. “I mean, it’s just a book. How accurate can a book be? Have you read the Bible? Heck, back in 1963 the almanac predicted ‘communist storms’ would wipe us all out.”
The Farmers’ Almanac has long boasted an 80% accurate track record with past predictions, but a scientific investigation of their past editions pegged the accuracy rate at closer to 50%, noting this level of accuracy could be “Achieved by closing your eyes and pointing to parts of a map while screaming dates and weather predictions.”
Auld Farmer Jaenkins, the publication’s current editor, explained that the “Methods of prognostification used here at Farmers’ Almanac are as tried and true as any at an ‘Englishs’ weatherporium.’ We base our forecasts on the movement of the breezes, the flight patterns of crows, the smashed entrails of the year’s biggest pumpkin, etc. If we tell ye the world’s ending, ye might as well buy a cellar-full of preserves, all the wool ye can, and wait for the ice to take ya, ok?” Farmer Jaenkins then chased this reporter off his property with a pitchfork.
Though there remains an air of uncertainty with this ominous Winter forecast, recent cold weather and the surprise snowfall in late October has galvanized opinions that the guide’s forecast of “and the ice takes us” is something Chicagoans should at least consider as Winter officially begins. “It might not be right, but what if it is? And the ice takes us?” said Easternberg. “I don’t want to doubt it and find myself mid-February without beans and wool! Also, could you list my profession as ‘dentish’? I’m not legally allowed to call myself ‘dentist’ till I get my license back, so I’m more of a ‘dent-ish’ than a ‘dentist.’”
Whether it’s right or not, we encourage all Chicagoans to take precautionary measures as Winter begins, and to take any steps necessary to make sure their homes, cars, and persons are ready for the colder weather and their wills are up to date. Stay warm out there and remember: this might be the one that actually kills us all.