Squeaky Snow 05/12/2013Posted by zoidion in Weather.
Tags: cold wave, occultation
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Twin Cities ephemera: As the long night began settling over the land, the great river and the city, I stood on a height of land a short walk from my house, to drink in the the fading glow, the clarity of the air, and the sight of the timeless crescent Moon and Venus above the industrial age skyline. Even now, they cast faint light through my frosty window.
A suddenly changed weather regime has charged across the North American continent, bringing record-setting snowfalls to northern Minnesota and promising to deliver a memorable cold wave to regions far and wide.
It’s not quite what I expected: “Dry, a little warmer.”
The week beginning with the New Moon on 2 December–only three days ago (?)–did begin dry and mild. As the first snow began falling several hours before the lunation, I noted a temperature of 38 degrees F–rather mild for this neck of the Great Woods. A couple of inches of heavy wet snow fell over the next several hours. The next morning was cloudy/foggy, calm, 37 degrees–and I noted 0.18 inch water in the rain/snow gauge. Another round of snow came that day–0.26 inch water–with the temperature remaining above freezing.
As the third round began on the morning of the 4th, the temperature was at the freezing mark, where it remained all day as several more inches of snow accumulated. This morning, I brought the gauge into the house to allow the snow to melt–it took over four hours, since I’m not one to use extra fossil fuel in the form of a pan of heated water. Another 0.42 inch of water.
In case you’re not adding up the numbers, that comes to a total of 0.86 inch of precipitation–not particularly wet, not exactly dry. (In northeastern Minnesota, however, truly impressive snowfalls happened: 35.3 inches near Two Harbors, on Lake Superior near Duluth.)
But as I stood facing Moon and Venus, I could feel the heat (and moisture) draining from my face, and I walked home to the familiar, new sound of squeaky snow.
What in the realm of symbols accounts for the difference between forecast and reality? What advance clues were available for such a dramatic entrance into winter for most of this continent?
The chart for the week, for the New Moon, holds mixed signals. It shows the sign Virgo on the lower meridian, which place in the chart represents the place in question and, typically, half of the astrometeorological analysis. Virgo is of the earth element, thus cold in nature, and dry–Virgo is ruled by dry, windy Mercury.
Mercury in turn is with Saturn (cold, storms) in the extreme water sign Scorpio.
But Mars is also in Virgo, on the western side of the meridian: another indication of dryness that suggests some heating, though not much.
The wettest sign, Cancer, is on the Ascendant–the eastern horizon–indicating what is approaching or arriving; the ruler, the Moon, is in fire sign Sagittarius. So some precipitation, but probably not a lot from this quarter of the analysis. However, Jupiter is in Cancer, and Jupiter rules Sagittarius. For analysis’ sake, Moon and Jupiter can exchange places: more moisture, more heat differential to power storms. In addition, Jupiter is opposed to Venus, which increases the moisture potential somewhat.
Water sign Pisces is on the upper meridian. And then there’s the Pluto factor (close to the western horizon): driving events to extremes.
There are other signals for the cold wave, one of them being the Moon’s movement. Since 1 December, the Moon has approached and crossed the upper meridian of the season chart: the one most pertinent to temperature changes. In so doing, the Moon has “collected” the energies first of Saturn (cold), then of Venus (moisture in moderate degree), in crossing the meridian and arcing toward the Ascendant: the very cold earth sign, Capricorn where Pluto now resides. The cold wave advanced as Moon entered Capricorn and then “crossed the line,” beginning to spill Arctic air across the rest of the continent.
(The Capricorn Ascendant in the season chart applies to the central zone, from the longitude of the Montana-North Dakota border almost to Cleveland, Ohio. This zone is in line to receive the brunt of the cold blast.)
There’s more to this in the details: On 1 December the Moon occulted first Saturn (cold, storms), then Mercury (wind) in the current sky: astronomical events similar to eclipses. As such, they indicate interruptions in the existing conditions and flow of the energies, and the opportunity for the energies to take different pathways.
Coming as they did one month after the solar eclipse (3 November), the Moon was beginning the second pass through the cycle of the zodiac: distributing and developing a new atmospheric regime, in concert with a changed Earth.
The sudden onset of snow and severe cold certainly poses risks for the unlucky or unwary in North America, but for perspective be mindful of a now-named Windstorm Xaver simultaneously wreaking havoc upon the great funnel of the North Sea: “One of the most dangerous storms in sixty years . . . major storm-surge flooding from Scotland to Denmark . . . winds greater than 100 miles per hour.”
And survivors in the Philippines will long be struggling to rebuild and reclaim their lives in the aftermath of Haiyan.
It seems, in this era of accelerating weather weirding, that no one will long remain personally untouched.
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Winter 2014 Overview 03/12/2013Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, urban agriculture, Weather.
Tags: Nicole Foss, TEDx Talk, weather forecast, winter 2014
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Twin Cities ephemera: The first flakes of wet snow began falling yesterday a few hours before the New Moon, concluding a notably dry week, as anticipated. I’d been noting how dry the soil surface was in contrast to October’s wetness; the climatologists agree that moderate drought has lately returned to this area. But I felt satisfied that I’d done what I could to feed the soil in my garden with water: I left one of my water barrels in place to catch the rain that came on 16 November, distributed the water, then upended the barrel until snowmelt time.
As yesterday’s snow began covering the grass and garden beds, I gave in to the urge to grab a couple more bags of leaves and add them to the compost bin in the community garden. That earned me a shout from a neighbor: You didn’t rake your leaves! I shouted back: It’s mulch, man! But I’m sure he didn’t hear. I’ve never known him to be willing to have a conversation: He just barks from a distance.
I wanted to ask him if he really thinks it’s smart for us taxpayers to have nearly $3 million a year spent in this city to have leaves and other yard “waste” picked up by city trucks and hauled somewhere outside the city for “composting.”
I marvel at the rows of brown paper bags that folks line up next to most garages, and consider the amount of effort involved in filling them, the amount of paper material, and the energy cost in manufacturing and marketing them. (But hey, it’s economic growth, right?)
It seems to me it would be a lot smarter to have compost bins working in most yards, and larger composting operations going in every neighborhood. But no–at least, not yet.
Put that in the context of harder and divisive choices that most states, cities and towns face, and it becomes clear that such absurdities must end soon. As Nicole Foss points out, Americans have already seen a “complex scenario of broken promises unfold, with over-burdened municipalities desperately trying to keep faith with bondholders and pensioners at the expense of residents, who face a downward spiral of tax rises and service cuts. The squeeze is well underway and is destined to worsen until it becomes impossible to keep any class of promises.”
(How long will it be, I wonder, before economic conditions and a general cultural shift lead to the scene in the photo in this blog post becoming a common picture in America?)
A couple of days earlier, I had a sanity break in the form of a visit by an acquaintance who has helped start a nonprofit whose mission is to get low-cost raised-bed garden boxes and vegetable seedlings to low-income people here. (You can see and hear his recent TEDx Talk here.) I arranged for him to come by and advise me on how to prune the cherry tree that M and I put in a year-and-a-half ago. It looks like a tangled mass of branches at this point, but he advised leaving it alone for another year before pruning about sixty percent of it away. In the meantime, the root system will continue developing, and that will support a tremendous spurt of growth and fruit production in 2015.
It fits with the well-known saying among gardeners about the pace of garden development and the need for patience: sleep, creep, leap.
I suppose the same might be said about anyone’s readiness for necessary change.
Outline for the season in the upper Mississippi River basin: Winter 2014
The season overall can be expected to be relatively cool and dry, though with rapid changes and marked variations in temperature. Precipitation events will mostly be relatively light amounts, but that does not preclude challenging weather events, especially in the first half of February.
Week by Week
Full Moon: 17 – 24 December
Unseasonably cold (close to historic records), dry
Fourth Quarter: 25 – 31 December
Cold, windy, turbulent (though much less so than in the Rocky Mountain region)
New Moon: 1 - 7 January (lunar perigee 1 January)
A little snow at beginning of period, abrupt shift to colder regime; quickly developing problematic weather reported elsewhere toward end of period
First Quarter: 8 – 15 January
Relatively pleasant through most of period
Full Moon: 16 – 23 January
Cold with a significant snowstorm carrying over from end of previous period; a more active and fast-moving weather pattern
Fourth Quarter: 24 – 30 January (lunar perigee 30 January)
Colder with a little snow
New Moon: 31 January – 6 February
Clearing and warmer: a pleasant interval, wind relatively quiet until about 2 February, when a wind shift, fog and/or drizzle can be expected: probably an episode of the dreaded ice storm conditions
First Quarter: 7 – 14 February
Wet, drizzly, more freezing rain likely
Full Moon: 15 – 21 February
A rude shift back to cold coming on a dramatic and memorable Valentine’s Day
Fourth Quarter: 22 – 28 February (lunar perigee 27 February)
Warmer as sun breaks through fog/drizzle
New Moon: 1 – 7 March
Warmer though unstable
First Quarter: 8 – 15 March
Damp with pleasant interludes among rapidly changing weather systems
Full Moon: 16 – 23 March
Dry at first, changing to damp, drizzly
The season chart is posted below.
It bears some similarity to the one for the Vernal Equinox 2013: Air sign Gemini, ruled by Mercury (here near the upper meridian, in fire sign Sagittarius), is again on the lower meridian: accounting for half of the general forecast. Again, Neptune is near the Ascendant, this time actually exactly on the Ascendant; this is an indicator for some instances of foggy / drizzly / freezing rain events. The Moon–the primary indicator of moisture–at a sixty-degree angle to the lower meridian is a clue that the Twin Cities area is likely to experience a notable such event, with attendant transportation difficulties.
The expectation of a general worldwide increase in weather turbulence in late 2013 and through the first half of 2014 is linked to the lengthy stay of Mars in Libra: 7 December through 25 July. Mars opposes Uranus–a particularly violent combination–in the Capricorn ingress chart (21 December), and zones where this axis is upon the horizon or meridian will bear the brunt of atmospheric forces: more on this later. Venus’ extended stay in Capricorn (5 November through 5 March), together with Jupiter’s year-long stay in Cancer (26 June 2013 through 15 July 2014), adds to an “interesting” time, weather-wise and otherwise.
Mars-Uranus and Venus-Jupiter form a potent cross, and the Sun, Moon and Mercury play their episodic parts. The week beginning New Year’s Day looks to be particularly memorable.
Within a decade of upheaval, in the first half of 2014 the pace of upheaval quickens.
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