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Joaquin Watch 30/09/2015

Posted by zoidion in Event, forecast, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The daytime prior to the blood-red perigee super-expeditious Full Moon eclipse was a warm one–fifteen degrees above average–with an impressive south wind tearing leaves off the few trees ready to shed them. The day after was cloudy–though the clouds failed to squeeze out more than a trace of rain–and still warm, muggy even.

But by today, the situation is back close to normal: cool and clear. I even did a double-take at dawn: After verifying that Venus, Mars and Jupiter were still where they should be in the east, I noted what looked for a moment like frost on the garage roof. Fortunately, it was just dew: Frost now would be a week early.

But essentially, this region looks set for a run of stable weather. (So I did my scheduled transplanting.)

Not so the East Coast. Hurricane watches are up from North Carolina to New England as all  weather eyes along the Atlantic are on now-Hurricane Joaquin.

What does astro-meteorology have to say about prospects for a major event? And does the eclipse have anything to do with it?

Well, looking at existing literature, and charts and maps for other major hurricanes, seems a good place to start.

Here’s what Kris Brandt Riske writes in Astrometeorology: Planetary Power in Weather Forecasting (1997):

The key factors in forecasting a hurricane are Mercury-Uranus and Mars-Neptune aspects. In the Mercury-Uranus combination, Mercury provides the wind and Uranus the upper atmosphere high pressure necessary to keep the wind/water hurricane engine running. Mars provides heat and more wind, and Neptune is water, counterclockwise winds, and low pressure. Because a hurricane is composed of thunderstorms, those planetary configurations can be expected, along with strong Saturn aspects to furnish the extremely low pressure in the eye.

George J. McCormack came to similar conclusions earlier in his extensive studies that he compiled in A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting (1947), writing: “Conjunction and opposition between [Mercury and Uranus] are both hurricane breeders.” And while McCormack did not specifically reference hurricanes, he characterized the Mars-Neptune combination: “Barometric pressure falls rapidly. These atmospheric disturbances are more intense during the summer, late spring and early fall months.”

And lo and behold: Both combinations are currently in effect: Mercury, taking more than two months (because of the current retrograde phase: the planet shifting from evening to morning star) to traverse the zoidion of Libra, opposes Uranus in Aries exactly just once–on 25 October. But they are opposed by zoidion for the entire two months plus. And Mars–along with, as mentioned, Venus and Jupiter–is currently closing in on the opposition with Neptune (exact on 7 October).

And what about Saturn? Yes, it too is part of the action: the reason why October in particular was previously identified as crucial regarding the financial / economic system.

So the celestial clock has marked out this period for high (atmospheric and oceanic tide) drama.

Was something comparable going on three years ago, when Superstorm Sandy struck New York City and nearby shoreline areas? Oh yes: Sandy went ashore on a Full Moon (but not a perigee “Super Moon”) high tide, with Saturn in the Sun-Moon axis. There was a Mercury-Uranus axis in the season chart (five weeks earlier), and there was a wide Mars-Neptune configuration at the time of the storm. But, ominously for the New York area, the season chart showed a devastating combination: Mars on the eastern horizon, and Neptune at the lower meridian: the most potent point regarding local conditions and potentials.

The astromap (below) corresponding to the 2012 fall season chart illustrates this graphically:


In the case of Katrina and New Orleans in 2005, Mercury and Saturn formed an axis with Neptune, with Mars forming a right angle to all three. The lunar phase was two days past Fourth Quarter.

The current season astromap (below) shows the Northeast U.S. in a wedge of trouble: between Mars and Saturn lines. And now that Mars has entered the zoidion of Virgo, completing the configuration with Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune, the trouble unleashes.


And the map (below) for the past Full Moon / eclipse shows the coast from Cape May (New Jersey) to Maine as the prime zone for landfall, for destruction and inundation. The dashed red line shows where Mars was on the lower meridian, while the solid blue line shows where Neptune was on the upper meridian.


It’s time for residents of and visitors to the whole Northeast coast to go through their preparedness checklists. They should know what to do by now.

When, more exactly, are the crucial days? The fourth through eighth of October look most difficult.


Stars and Bucks 11/09/2015

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, History, Photography, Weather.
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Glacial Lakes ephemera: After a run of not-quite-hot but very muggy days, the weather regime shifted just in time for a planned several days out of town. We headed west and a bit north to the Minnewaska area, about one hundred and twenty miles from home, as the crow flies.

There’s a good-size lake by that name there: the name made, by early settlers, from two Dakota words, minne (“water”) and washta or waska (“good”). For a while it was called by an Indian name meaning “Dish Lake,” because it lies in a basin. At other times it was called White Bear Lake, apparently because a Chief White Bear was buried in a high hill on the north shore; and Lake Whipple, after Bishop Henry Whipple, by many accounts a fair-minded man who courageously advocated for peace with the Dakotas when the bulk of the white population wanted to exterminate or at least deport all of them following the horrors of the Dakota Uprising of 1862. (The town of Mankato on the Minnesota River still holds the dubious distinction of having been the site of the largest mass execution ever in the United States of America, when thirty-eight Dakotas were simultaneously hanged on the day after Christmas that year. Many more sentences were commuted by President Abraham Lincoln.)

The view of and approach to the lake from the south is a dramatic prospect, since it is a long and finally steep slope after traversing part of the 120-mile-long and ten-to-nineteen-mile-wide band of territory known as the glacial lakes. While nearly all of Minnesota (not the southeast corner) was subject to glaciation, this area got special treatment that left behind a landscape characterized by hills, ridges and lakes that seem to belong . . .  somewhere else. 

Here’s one view within Glacial Lakes State Park:


And another:


The experience afforded by a bit of time atop this kame — hah! the computer’s dictionary doesn’t list the word, but the hefty paper one does: “a short ridge or mound of sand and gravel deposited during the melting of glacial ice” — was a rare and welcome one. The only sounds came from the unusually gentle breeze, grasshoppers, frogs (maybe) in the woods below, a few birds passing through the valley: nothing mechanical. And the quality of light shifted from moment to moment.

The day had begun, in the nearby no-stoplight town of Starbuck, with a full rainbow and a partial double spectrum of colors, which heralded half a day of overcast and showery conditions. By noon, the sky was clearing, and by early evening a local pileup of clouds was flashing lightning nearly every second and hurling hail at the ground. I wondered if I could have stood the times of tedium to witness, and photograph, such a remarkable variety of clouds and light on the land.

The following morning was quite clear, presenting an excellent view of the fading Moon along with Venus and Mars. (Mars is a tiny dot to the left, or north, of the Moon’s crescent.) Pretty good for a camera perched on a stack of magazines, looking out a dirty second-story-porch window. (It would be a long story.)


Below is the chart for the same moment: the time as recorded by my camera. Jupiter was about to rise over the horizon, though still too close to the Sun to be seen. But the chart shows graphically that excellent planetary viewing will be possible, clear weather permitting, over the next couple of weeks. The Sun lengthens the distance from Jupiter, and Venus and Mars close the distance from the latter.


How easy and glorious it would be to see the planets and stars if so many millions of lives weren’t based in urban centers like the overbuilt Twin Cities, with its excess of shade and decorative trees and its plethora of light pollution sources. Viewing across a prairie landscape like the Sedan Brook Prairie would be both simple and hypnotic.


But except for a few mostly small remnants, the prairies are gone. What is left, in small towns dependent on spillover money from Big Agriculture — where every stop sign or bend in the road represents an opportunity for a disastrous spill from a tank truck loaded with anhydrous ammonia — are rueful reminders of what once, and for eons, was.



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