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Looking Toward Spring 13/02/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It lacked the sensational news value of the Big Dump out east, but around here and to the north and west, a decent amount of precipitatin’ happened, primarily on the day of the New Moon (Sunday, 10 February). It was enough of a mess for the Twin Cities to declare snow emergencies. The city plow drivers loved it, I expect: lots of weekend overtime pay.

The next day, I went to Austin—about 100 miles south—for a friend’s dad’s funeral, and it was dicey traveling. Along the way on the Interstate—or should I say, off it—there were two semis in the ditch, as the snow snaked across the lanes from the farm fields. The clumps of trees I saw were glazed with ice and a bit of snow, but I noted there was much stubble from last season’s crops visible—the area is still very much contending with the prospect of continuing drought.

Not so in the northern two-thirds of the state. There’s a fair amount of precipitation—almost four inches of water content—sitting on the ground, but whether it actually gets into the ground is another thing.

As a story in the Star Tribune cautions: “’We could have a flood on top of a drought,’ said assistant Minnesota state climatologist Pete Boulay. Soils are extremely dry over most of the state, and a cap of frost could well prevent most of the moisture in the snow and ice now lying on the landscape from soaking into the ground when spring warmth arrives. In that case, it would run off into lakes, streams and rivers.”

The best prospects for the start of the growing season would be a combination of plenty more snow and a gradual warmup: above-freezing days and below-freezing nights. Which is exactly what didn’t happen in 2012, when a dearth of snow was followed by record warmth with many above-freezing nights in March.

 

What do the moisture charts have to say for the coming month? The short answer is: dry with a couple of short cold spells until the week of 4 March (the start of the fourth quarter of the lunar cycle), when we’ll see an extended stormy period.

The local New Moon chart featured water sign Pisces—and Mercury (wind, variability), Mars (rising temperature) and Neptune (peculiar “borderline” conditions) clustered closely around the meridian. Water sign Scorpio, with Saturn therein, on the Ascendant closed the deal on a lingering messy storm.

The first quarter (17 February) and Full Moon (25 February) charts both have dry air sign Libra on the lower meridian, so dry—and cool—weeks can be expected. Both those charts also feature Uranus close to the upper meridian, foretelling rapidly and dramatically shifting temperatures: particularly dips on the cold side.

That pattern changes in the fourth quarter to a lingering cold and stormy spell, thanks to Saturn very close to the lower meridian. The sign involved is water sign Scorpio, which cues the watchword “extreme.” An unpleasant period, but one which also offers the best chance for the moisture needed along with conditions for that moisture to soak into the ground.

Sometimes unpleasantness turns out to be both beneficial and welcome.

 

Reading recommendation: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, by Colin Woodard (2011).  See the author’s web site for selections of his writings.

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