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A Change in the Weather 20/11/2012

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities weather report: Mild, calm, dry weather has been the norm lately, although—looking back over the whole season—the expected rain has come. But we’re definitely not out of the drought.

The extended pleasant weather has been a boon to those, like me, who always seem to have outside projects in mind, or on a list. So I scooted around the neighborhood, grabbing a few more bags of leaves before the last pickup of the year. Some went into my raised beds, so the soil wouldn’t be naked to the drying wind all winter, and some went into the community garden compost bin, which up til now contained only veggie stems and grass clippings. So now there’s the start of real compost over there as well as in our own yard. We’ll need it, since it’s been two years since the delivery of five yards of city compost, which I’ve always considered to be of somewhat questionable quality, since it apparently includes leaves and whatever else gets swept off the streets.

I haven’t done a lot more organized investigation of weather patterns and events in the past few weeks, for personal health reasons. However, the other night, I did something I rarely do: I watched TV. I watched the PBS special show on the Dust Bowl, taking notes along the way. I found it profoundly disturbing—the foolish and ignorant plowing of the plains, the loss of vast amounts of precious topsoil, the economic bubble aspect of the peopling of the region, the loss of the fruits of hard work, the illness and deaths from the dust. Nature built that fragile ecosystem over many millennia, and—as the narration put it—Euro-Americans “created a world-class ecological disaster in 40 to 50 years.” The show mentioned a half-Apache rancher who, dismayed at the industrial-scale plowing, referred to the soil as being “wrong-side up.”

In that generally arid region, agriculture is out of place, but people continue to pursue it, with fossil-fuel based fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and irrigation with “fossil water.” So often, the hope for economic good times has been based on looking toward “next year.” But after the extreme and rapidly developing drought of 2012, what will “next year” bring? That’s the subject for a future post.

The local weather indications for the week beginning today are based on the first quarter lunation chart. (The overall trend for the current lunar month are based on the new moon/solar eclipse chart of 13 November, which offered no dire or dramatic indications for this band of longitude, although it did suggest a moist pattern—water sign Cancer on the lower meridian.) The coming week shows an abrupt shift away from the recent mild weather: Uranus appears exactly on the lower meridian.

A gusty blast of cold appears forthcoming, although not an especially destructive one—Mars (moving toward Pluto) in square aspect to Uranus is not of great concern regarding atmospheric weather. (A surge in political violence—particularly of the explosive variety—in the next week appears likely, however, calling for a heightened level of vigilance.)

Weather-wise, below-normal temperatures in the central section of the country can be expected, along with those winds.

In reference to this astro-meteorological situation, George J. McCormack says this:

If Uranus occupy an angle at a solar ingress, observe those days when the Moon transits the upper or lower meridian at the place of observation and completes aspects with Uranus. Note also if other transiting bodies over the same points form aspects, for they will then register their effects very definitely.

Granted, the chart under consideration is not for the Libra ingress of 2012, but for the first quarter moon of November. But I see no reason why the principle should not apply.

The Moon passes Uranus early Friday morning the 23rd, minutes after Mars squares Uranus. The wintry blast should be obvious as the day proceeds.

Also, the Moon on the 22nd shifts from south to north declination, on the way to maximum north declination on the 29th, so the Moon’s power to “steer” weather is increasing—similar to the situation in late October, during the devastating Hurricane Sandy period. During this quarter, the Moon—connecting closely with both Venus and Neptune—can shape atmospheric currents, including the jet stream, to direct rain and snow to areas indicated by Venus. Such as New England—note vertical green Venus line running north-south near Boston on map below. (The dashed red Uranus line through Minneapolis is near the left edge.)

I’d say it looks like New Englanders would do well to take note of what New York and New Jersey folk have had to do lately, in terms of living without electricity and perhaps other services. Be prepared to be snowed in, especially in the interior and higher elevations, Sunday the 25th and into Monday the 26th–the Moon aligns with Venus at about 5 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

More so than most Thanksgiving weekends, it looks like an appropriate time—a bit tumultuous perhaps—for connecting with family, friends and neighbors, and observing Buy Nothing Day.

 

UPDATE November 24 – The change has come, as abruptly as anticipated. On the morning of the 22nd, we were outside enjoying the mild weather (50 degrees on the backyard thermometer) as we sat by a campfire; it had been even warmer overnight (officially, a new-record 60 degrees) as a warm front moved through. The temperature reached 52 at noon, just before the clouds gathered and the wind picked up—three hours later, the temperature had dropped ten degrees. By 6 p.m., as we joined a large group around two feast tables, a thick snow squall showed under the streetlight. Back home at 10 p.m., the thermometer showed 28 degrees.

By the time Moon passed Uranus and the local first quarter lower meridian (see chart above) early on the 23rd, the temperature had dropped a bit more, to 24. And by 8 a.m. today, the sky had cleared, the wind calmed and the thermometer read 13 degrees.

That’s mid-continent weather for ya.

Meanwhile, a strong pattern of lake-effect snow has set up downwind of each of the Great Lakes, along with snow over Vermont and New Hampshire and rain  (likely turning to snow as the cold front arrives) over Maine.

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Comments»

1. Dave of Maryland - 21/11/2012

Re: Dust Bowl, I grew up in southwest Kansas, 30 years after the dustbowl. I recall some huge storms that started with a lot of dust, but which quickly changed to intense, wind-driven rain and thunder, with a visibility of ten feet or less. So strong the house, newly and strongly built, shook. Have never seen a tornado, but have seen walls of circular clouds, which are precursors, not that I knew it at the time. Given that the dust was followed by rain, I myself have never seen accumulations of wind-blown dust. I saw the last part of the last episode of that show, by the way. (Ken Burns)

As to what to do with the plains, I don’t know. When I was growing up, everyone grew wheat. Gotta grow wheat somewhere, we need to eat. Flying over the midwest in years since, I see lots of circular irrigation, which everyone knows is foolish. Farms don’t provide much in the way of employment, which means they don’t provide much in the way of income, so the widespread irrigation is presumably eastern investors trying to maximize profit, the environment be damned. Presumably the aquifer will give out in stages, which will stop the irrigation before the towns go dry, but on the other hand, if there is no more farming, there won’t be much reason for the towns. North Dakota is becoming depopulated. Nebraska and western Kansas may be next.

So far as, would the end of the aquifer end the rainfall necessary for winter wheat production (about 20 inches, actually), I have a note from Santa Fe:

David, my barber in Santa Fe, said Santa Fe was a subsistence economy until FDR’s men came in and insisted the place become economically organized so they could pay taxes, just like the rest of us. This somehow led to a shift in the local climate which ended the rainfall that was necessary for the local small scale corn crop. Santa Fe, at 7000 feet and with little water, was not then and is not now a major agricultural area. Wish I remembered the rest of his story.

Pete(r) Doughty - 21/11/2012

That’s quite a vivid image with which to be imprinted, that few Americans share.
There’s a fairly well known proposal, to essentially turn the plains back to the kind of prairie that the bison knew. Not very popular in the region, though of course nature bats last.
I’ve wondered how much depth of topsoil was lost in those years (and since), and how that’s affected yields (in good rainfall years). And not just in the Dust Bowl area, but throughout the agricultural heartland of the continent. It’s fairly well known in Minnesota, for example, that, up until very recently, the heedless practices of the big farms have resulted in a disproportionate share of Mississippi River (and delta) silt coming from this area. One “lake” (Lake Pepin, between MN and WI), just a little downstream from the Twin Cities, is rapidly silting up.
One blog that covers regional farming and ecological issues is Steven McFadden’s Call of the Land: http://thecalloftheland.wordpress.com
I recommend seeing, if you can, part one of the Dust Bowl special. It’s the familiar Ken Burns formula, but it’s well done and effective.


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