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Long John Days 14/01/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The coldest week of year is upon us here in the center of the North American continent. Whoopee. At least that’s how the averages work out. And this is playing out as a fairly average winter.

We had our thaw, and a bit of rain. Six consecutive days—the 7th through the 12th—had a maximum temperature above the freezing mark. On the afternoon of the 10th, the first of a number of periods of drizzle began as the temperature crept up to 40 on the 11th. About a quarter of an inch of rain fell on the few inches of crusty snow.

Between the previous sunny days and the days of thaw and rain, nearly all snow on the south side of the garage roof melted and drained into the rain barrel that I’ve kept at the ready—no point in letting it turn into a sheet of ice on the concrete parking spot. By the time I left home for a dinner engagement on the 11th, the barrel was full, and I made a mental note to empty it into the garden when I returned. Good thing I did, since it was about one-third full again and there was already more than a skin of ice on the surface on the morning of the 12th, as I wrestled the barrel to one of my new raised beds.

And though wind chills were nasty over the weekend, the actual temperature didn’t dip below zero. (The Farmers Almanac forecast “turning sharply colder: temperatures for the Dakotas drop as low as 30 below” for the January 8th-11th period.)

The refreeze, however, means that a lot of sidewalks and patches of most streets are now treacherously slick with ice. That wouldn’t be the case if more people considered the safety of their neighbors and attended to their sidewalks with a bit of potassium chloride. I expect that behavior of neglect will shift as we all proceed down the slope from Hubbert’s Peak (see Resilience.org  and The Hubbert Tribute), and fewer and fewer people can continue the drive-everywhere lifestyle.


During the period of shortest days, I make an effort to regularly record two backyard weather observations each day—around eight a.m., before the Sun clears the trees in the yards of the houses on the next street to the east, and around four p.m., when the Sun sets behind the house to the south. So these are daytime-in-the-shade readings.

On the 7th, the morning reading was 27 degrees, the afternoon 34; by the morning of the 8th, the temperature had dipped to 24, but rose again to 34; down to 30 and up to only 32 on the 9th; down again to 30 and up higher to 38 on the 10th; 36 and 39 on the 11th; 20 and 15 on the 12th. (Officially, the temperature was still above freezing just after midnight on the 12th.)

Have a look at the bi-wheel chart below, with the winter solstice 2012 / Capricorn ingress / “temperature chart” on the inside, with the Sun, Moon and planetary positions for eight a.m. on the 7th on the outside.


(I regret that I can’t eliminate the asteroid placements in the application I’m using for this graphic.)

Notice several points: Venus (mentioned in the previous post) is exactly two degrees away from reaching the position of the Sun in the earlier chart; the Moon in the January 7 chart is approaching the Ascendant of the December 21 chart; and, in the January 7 chart,  Mars (rising temperature) is very close to an exact square (90-degree) angle to Saturn (cold temperature). The Mars-Saturn angle was exact at 1:33 p.m. Central time.

The drizzle began falling as the old Moon, at perigee (monthly closest distance from Earth) and zodiacally at eight degrees of Capricorn, was setting—the Moon is lord of the opposite sign of Cancer. Venus was slightly more than two degrees past the solstice Sun position. And Mars was two degrees past the square to Saturn.

12212012_01102013 New Moon in the cold sign of Capricorn was at 1:44 p.m. Central time on the 11th, as the temperature continued creeping up another degree or two. Over the next twelve hours, as the “heat” peaked and subsided, the Moon passed the solstice position of Mars.


 In natal astrology, Mars is considered strong (“exalted”) in the sign of Capricorn: the heat and impulse inherent in the martial “body” of humanity is typically tempered by the cautious and considered character of Capricorn. In weather astrology also, Mars’ heat is reduced in the cold sign of Capricorn.

Note that in the solstice chart Mars is in the twenty-seventh degree of Capricorn, while the Ascendant is in the twenty-seventh degree of Scorpio. Not only is that arc a nice, neat sixty degrees—indicating that Mars’ heat can be activated for this location in this season—but Mars is also lord of Capricorn: another indication of potency.

The Moon’s nature is cool, so the lunar transit of the Mars position brought the thaw to an end.

As the Sun transits the same Mars position on the 16th, we can expect a bump in the temperature. (The techno-weather folks agree.)

Then it’s time to don the long johns again.



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