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Global Weirding 04/02/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Twin Cities ephemera: The past couple of days, I’ve noticed the Sun rising just to the north of the big pine tree across the alley. The days are getting a little longer, a little warmer.

Well, I’m back. Family matters called me back East. No emergency, so I took Amtrak, mostly. Actually, I’d be loath to take a plane if it was an emergency.

The train was comfortable, the ride for the most part smooth, though there were delays. The watchwords for Amtrak could be: waiting for a freight. I didn’t bother trying to count how many times during waking hours the train was stopped between stations, waiting for a priority-passage freight train to get by before proceeding.

But it’s a contemplative mode of transportation, at least for me. Traveling fairly light, I had, in the realm of paper, just a few items to peruse/use: the Maynard Celestial Guide for 2013 (I considered but left behind my copy of the Farmers’ Almanac), the latest Fiddler magazine, The Lives of the Muses, and my journal. One might think the many delays would have been good times to write, but their usual brevity and unexpected end made them difficult moments to delve beyond surface observations.

Besides, I was just too interested in the places outside the window. East of Cleveland along Lake Erie, there were many extensive fields of grape vines: for juice, I was told.  They were freshly covered by nearly a foot of lake-effect snow.

A little while later, the train was gliding past Buffalo, a graphic example of this nation’s capacity for waste. Though it was at some distance, I could appreciate the onetime grandeur that attended arriving at or departing from Buffalo. But the facility now appears to be wreckage:



Nowadays, the trains—one a day, each direction—stop a couple of miles away at a nondescript facility amidst the suburban sprawl of Depew.  My sentiments exactly.

Further along, between Rochester and Syracuse, the tracks crossed a broad, shallow river and marshes near the Erie Canal—probably the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The train moved slowly enough that I could note the years—1910, 1916—cast in concrete on the many piers that support a parallel track, long decrepit.

I spent a few days in and around Boston, one day walking from near the Bunker Hill Monument to the Charles River, under the mammoth Zakim Bridge, across the river and past the small West End Museum. I passed several of the museum’s windows before deciding to check it out; despite several previous visits to Boston, I had no knowledge of the West End. The museum conveys a poignant sense of loss regarding the wholesale destruction of the neighborhood that had been home to generations of multiple immigrant groups.

I continued past the brutalist architecture of the Government Center—a concrete cautionary tale about the dangers of liberalism—and around the back of the stately State House, through the tightly packed residential streets of Beacon Hill—they would be so much lovelier without the bumper-to-bumper parked cars—to the Common, where the Frog Pond was thronged with skaters.

There was opportunity to spend some time at the magnificent Public Library—the old part, that is: the modernist addition “features” a vast atrium that seems designed to induce a sense of insignificance in the individual.  Taking my time in a special exhibit, I found it fascinating to see in greater detail than before, how very much of Boston’s current area was created by filling in shallow waters.

As expected, the weather was cold during my time there, with just a dusting of snow overnight before my hike. Indeed, I was struck by how very little snow I saw on the ground the whole way from Wisconsin, except  immediately downwind from Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario.

From Boston the tracks led to Washington, where I spent a couple of days in the ‘burbs. The first two days—the 29th and 30th—were . . . should I say warm?  It was hard to figure out how many—or few—layers to wear. Daffodils were up, but not blooming, and I saw many potted pansies in flower. What a treat: color!

The 29th was sunny—spring seemed to be at hand. The 30th was a bit warmer and definitely more humid, but low ragged clouds raced eastward. Shortly after nightfall, torrential rains fell, and by dawn a stiff wind was driving the clouds away, and the temperature had dropped dramatically. (In the Deep South, tornadoes had ripped through a number of towns–in January.)

With a few hours to spare that day, before taking the train out, I walked around the mostly residential area near the marvelous Union Station. At one point, wanting to catch a few rays on my face and glad to have my wool coat, I sat on a low wall for a few minutes, facing some unmarked federal building. It didn’t take long before an uniformed person appeared and crossed the street midblock to have a wordless look at me.  Every corner of every block with a federal building had an armed watcher. Coming from the provinces, I’m just not used to the lifestyle of the imperial capital.

There wasn’t much to see on the way back, overnight, to Chicago. There was still only the thinnest dusting of snow visible, and it was nasty cold in the shadowy canyons of the Loop. I was glad when I arrived home to find the first of several “clippers” dropping a pretty white blanket and a hush over the Cities. Plus, in my absence and as anticipated, significant precipitation (0.49 inch of moisture) arrived just after the Full Moon—but will it get into the ground when the thaw comes? In the lowest spot around—my backyard—I think it will.

All in all, it looks like we’ll have some moisture to start the growing season.

The book that awaited me at the library upon my return is The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850, by Brian Fagan (2000). As far as I’ve gotten so far, it’s a fascinating and often disturbing look at the cold climate regime of that era across the European continent.

The author begins with a description of the expansion that took place in the prior era: the Medieval Warm Period. During that time, the Norse ventured to and settled in Greenland and Newfoundland, farmers in northern Europe cultivated land previously uncleared, wheat was grown as far north as Trondheim (Norway), and rural and urban populations rose sharply. “For five centuries, Europe basked in warm, settled weather, with only the occasional bitter winters, cool summers and memorable storms . . . Compared with what was to follow, these centuries were a climatic golden age. . . . Nothing prepared them for the catastrophe ahead.”

My astrological mind, of course, wants to find an astrological signature to these eras of widespread ease and difficulty. I want to develop an understanding, at least, of the climatic course of the Piscean Age (roughly 200 BCE to 1900 CE), in order to better anticipate the nature of the Aquarian Age.

Will the recent warm pattern continue? Will the orthodoxy of “global warming” be borne out? Or is it to be “global weirding”—a regime of extended and widespread droughts punctuated by wild temperature swings and sudden, record-breaking deluges? Will the weirding take place within an overall cool age?

The latter is my conclusion. The Sun is “in exile” in Aquarius: the king has little influence when farthest from his domain. Aquarius is an air sign: all (the others being Gemini and Libra) are dry and cool, Aquarius coolest of all. (Pisces, a water sign, is also cool by nature.)

Aquarius is also the pattern-breaker, the one that seems to settle into a pattern, then suddenly flip into another. It’s weird that way.

It’s also curious how the year 1315 was a watershed year, in more ways than one marking a distinct end to the Medieval Warm Period.

Wrote chronicler Bernardo Guidonis: ‘Exceedingly great rains descended from the heavens, and they made huge and deep mud-pools on the land.’ Freshly plowed fields turned into shallow lakes. . . . An unseasonably cold August became an equally chilly September. Such corn and oats as survived were beaten down to the ground, heavy with moisture, the ears still soft and unripened. . . . Dykes were washed away, royal manors inundated. In central Europe, floods swept away entire villages, drowning hundreds at a time.

It was the year before that Saturn, lord of Aquarius, entered that sign. But it was the summer of 1315 that the cold and wet conditions took hold. In the season chart, below, for summer 1315, Saturn-ruled Capricorn (cold, stormy) is on the lower meridian, and Saturn itself is in Aquarius; Saturn is also closely involved in a complex configuration including the Moon (lord of the Sun in this season chart, but “in fall” in water sign Scorpio), Mars (“in exile” in Taurus), the lunar nodal axis, and Jupiter, and more widely with Venus (a generally moderating, though moist, influence) and Neptune (fluke conditions, floods)—this is a disastrous combination. (The chart is set for Tournai, Belgium, a key Flemish town then in rebellion against nobles allied with France; a French invasion was halted due to weather conditions and food shortages, forcing an ignominious retreat. Continuing political and economic chaos developed into the Hundred Years War, beginning in 1337.)


From a climate (not merely a seasonal weather) perspective, the significance, as Fagan puts it, is this: “The lessons of the Little Ice Age are twofold. First, climate change does not come in gentle, easy stages. It comes in sudden shifts from one regime to another—shifts whose causes are unknown to us and whose direction is beyond our control. Second, climate will have its way in human events. Its influence may be profound, occasionally even decisive.”



1. starjoy967@aol.com - 04/02/2013

I couldn’t type above that line–just going to say this –I’m certainly no weather expert like you are, but I was borne in 1933, Sat at 10 Aq. In 1936 there was a terrible heat wave here which is sometimes mentioned in weather broadcasts re our summer temps when they get high. I know absolutely nothing about the overall temps when Sat was in AQ this past time around when I was born–wasn’t that the time of the dust bowl, etc. I’m sure you would know………Your report is an interesting read……Peace, M

zoidion - 05/02/2013

Hello, M – Yes, the 1930s—especially through 1936—was a time of great climate-induced problems in the US. Drought, as many are aware, but also extremes of heat and cold. I’d have to look it up, since I’m currently immersed in medieval times, but one of those years witnessed both extremes of temperature, and many long-standing records.

2. Dave of Maryland - 05/02/2013

Hello Pete –
You have a big one here. Note the opposition between Jupiter and Saturn. Work out if this was part of a Great Mutation, in other words, if they were changing from conjunctions in one element, to conjunctions in another element, which makes this a mid-way point in the process. Also note that we are presently finishing up on an earth mutation (1840-2000) which is said to have killed Presidents. Reagan was the first exception (conjunction in Libra, 1980) which seems to have let GW Bush escape. In 2020 the mutation is in Capricorn. Work this out for climate, you might have something.

zoidion - 05/02/2013

Hello Dave. Yes, I noticed the Jupiter-Saturn opposition, in itself an indication of a political-economic turning point. The preceding Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was an anomaly—coming after three consecutive conjunctions in the air element, the set of three in 1305/06 were at 1 Scorpio, 29 Libra and 27 Libra respectively. Two more conjunctions in air followed in 1325 and 1345, followed by one at 8 Scorpio in 1365, then two more in air until the sequence of water sign conjunctions beginning in 1425. Between 411 and 2100, I find no other sign-straddling sets of three Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions.

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