DUBLIN, N.H. -- Jud Hale, editor-in-chief of The Old Farmer's Almanac, is worried. Some of last year's weather forecasts were just too accurate -- way above the traditional 80 percent.
That makes it a tough act to follow for the 210th edition, which hit newsstands Tuesday.
"It's disturbing news," Hale said in mock alarm.
The 2002 edition of the Old Farmer's Almanac offers up its usual mix of weather predictions, recipes, astronomical calendars, tide charts, gardening tips and advice on everything from how to avoid social commitments to staving off colds.
For believers, the Almanac predicts the five-month winter season from November through March should be pretty mild in most places except for the Pacific Northwest, where colder temperatures and above normal snowfall are forecast. But more snow than normal is also possible in New England, the northern Great Lakes, the Texas Panhandle and from Denver to eastern Iowa, Hale said.
A summer drought is possible across the Tennessee Valley into the Smokies and Appalachians and from Virginia to southern New England. But the Almanac is forecasting rainfall well above normal in southwestern Arizona, southern Florida, coastal Georgia and South Carolina.
Not to be confused with the newer Farmer's Almanac published in Maine, the Old Farmer's Almanac -- the nation's oldest continuously published periodical -- is a folksy mix of fun and factual reading.
Among the advice articles: How to get out of doing what you don't want to do. One way, Hale suggests, is "delay, delay, delay and they finally give up."
His personal favorite, though, is by hinting at an "icky" medical problem.
"Intestinal difficulties -- that's nice. Or the word 'fungus.' Just mention it and that's probably the end of them asking you to do this particular task," Hale said.
This year's almanac also offers age-old advice on the age-old question of how to avoid catching the worst colds. The Almanac's suggestions include building up a resistance by eating yogurt or garlic and onions, and gargling Tabasco sauce in water. Of course, that combination would likely mean that no one would get close enough to spread the germs that cause colds.
"The rule should be 'Have no one come within 25 feet of you,"' Hale conceded.
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