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Winter Won’t Quit 19/03/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities weather report: The days are getting long, but the nights—and days—remain cold. The latest Alberta clipper arrived here around first light on Monday, perfectly timed to snarl a lot of folks’ morning commute—poor sods. A few more inches of snow fell out of the sky before the wind shifted to the northwest and shifted to wind-chill speed.

That was about the time M and I arrived by bus at the small but energetic rally opposing the Keystone XL2 pipeline, planned to send more oil-sands oil out of Alberta. This action had been called over the weekend, following the announcement by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) that she would vote in favor of the pipeline. A month ago, a rally of many thousands from across the country gathered in Washington to call on the President to nix it, but in the absence of any decision from the White House, the Senate has claimed authority. Is this federal government dysfunctional or what? Wasn’t there, once upon a time, a constitution that defined the roles of various branches of government? Or  has it all become far too big, too Byzantine?

At one point during the rally, word went around that nine people would be allowed into the Senator’s local office to talk about the issue. Then a city cop car showed up at the building entrance and soon left, though I couldn’t quite see whether anyone had been shown into the back seat. Soon after that, the message filtered through the crowd of about fifty: no meeting. No surprise.

So why show up? I went with no illusion that one vote in that far-away, out-of-touch chamber would change. No, I went simply to be another body in a small crowd, to refuse to be passive and accepting of the insanity of the day.

I had spent some time Sunday evening delving into the petro-state dysfunction of the province of Alberta, and Canada as a whole. It’s really quite a mess, just as spectacular, just as teetering-on-the-abyss, as the one south of the forty-ninth parallel. For the past several months I’ve been aware of the Idle No More movement’s opposition to violations of tribal lands for pipeline shipments of the very dirty oil coming out of Alberta. More recently I picked up on reports that Alberta has been running large governmental deficits for the past five years, despite—or because of—the tar sands mining. (It seems the only country that has managed oil wealth well in long-term principles is Norway.) I found a remarkably sharp analysis—“Alberta’s Strange Sinking Sensation”—by Andrew Nikiforuk of The Tyee newspaper/web site based in Vancouver.

But I recognize the essential futility of fighting a destructive system without primarily building an alternative, constructive one. So I turned to one of my favorite sites, Resilience.org. There I found Dan Allen’s two-part piece on local food systems organized around the concept of polyculture: the growing of many crops on a small scale.

I’m quite convinced that food production and/or simple processing are things that most people can do to some degree. I have little in the way of technical skills, but I can and do implement ways of treating my place as a homestead rather than a consumption zone. That means, in part, helping my yard become an edible landscape. And though I have much to learn before I dare call myself an experienced gardener, I have begun the process and urge others to do so, whenever opportunity arises.

As Allen says:

“I think there’s an awful lot we can do now – that we must do now – to give ourselves and the planet the best shot of coming out of this in one piece. And I think that most of these things (aside from hastening the collapse of the industrial earth-destroying machine), involve the manner in which we get our food. And please don’t wait around for BigAg Inc. (and its subsidiary, the US government) to start doing anything useful. Because they won’t. They have very clearly cast their policy vote for the mass murder-suicide of the industrial model of agriculture. It’s up to us – you and me. We need to do this ourselves.”

To summarize the context, Allen lays out ten premises regarding the prospects forf food production in the years ahead:

#1: The Earth’s climate is destabilizing.

#2. Our agriculture is adapted to the stable Holocene climate. (The past 10,000 years.)

#3. Climate destabilization will severely stress agriculture.

#4. Collapse of industrial civilization will magnify the climatic stresses.

#5. Agriculture will unavoidably shrink in scale and technological complexity.

#6. Ecological complexity in agriculture will necessarily replace technological complexity.

#7. A polyculture of perennial vegetation has the best chance of providing food for humans in the future.

#8. Our current ‘leaders’ will not aid the necessary transition to an ecologically-sound perennial agriculture – they will hinder it.

#9. Local responses are possible, necessary, and should begin as soon as possible.

#10. We may not succeed, but we must try.

It’s ironic, though, that in the midst of this, a new appliance—a gas stove—arrived at my place and got hooked up—ultimately to the Alberta oil-sands and gas fields. I had no affection for the old, broken-down electric model—which had also been connected a bit less directly to Alberta: the power plant, just across the railroad tracks, converted from coal to natural gas a few years ago. But I was annoyed at the new models available: among those that would fit our situation, not a ding-dang one had mechanical controls for the oven; no, they have to have circuit-board controls that are not repairable—a boon to the “repair” business, if they manage to keep a replacement board in stock. And the new stove doesn’t have a handy level shelf atop the control board, but rather a curvy plastic thingy—meltable!—that’s metallic-coated. Newer is not better.

As the view out the window continues to be predominantly white, I continue to wonder about the indications for our spring in this area—particularly, when will the snow melt. When can planting begin? And even more important: Will winter’s precipitation pattern continue?

As I’ve written in earlier posts, the primary indication of the chart for spring temperature and moisture potential—cast for 20 March 2013, 6:02 a.m. CDT, Minneapolis—is Gemini and the planet Jupiter at the lower meridian (where the sun would be at midnight). Those factors foretell a mostly dry and cool season. As C.C. Zain says, in Weather Predicting, of Gemini:

[It] is a cold and drafty sign. Its influence in the Temperature Chart may be considered as favoring cold weather. However, it may also be considered to favor rapid changes and variable temperatures. . . . No other sign is as windy as Gemini. . . . Gemini is bone dry, even though cold. It does not favor rain, and even tends to blow fog and mist away. . . .  Only when the rest of a weather chart shows rain does it play any part with precipitation. Then it indicates that it will be a driving rain, or rain which is part of a wind storm.


The addition of Jupiter to the mix increases the dryness. With the cold air sign Aquarius on the Ascendant at this latitude, a further drought factor is included; further south and east, however, water sign Pisces rises—thus, contrary to expectations of some of the techno-weather folks, I expect that sections of the American midsection south and east of central Missouri will fare somewhat better for much-needed rainfall along with fair growing weather.

As for warming, the prospects are for a gradual trend at best: There are no warming factors (the Sun or Mars) in position to cross the Ascendant, to indicate a surge of warmth. The Sun and Mars, scheduled for conjunction on 17 April at twenty-eight degrees Aries, will both make a slightly-warming sixty-degree angle to our local Ascendant for the season in the week previous—that should be our most notable warming period.

The best chances for rain in this area through May are the weeks of 27 March (following the Full Moon), 2 April (during the last quarter of the lunar cycle), 18 April (from first quarter to Full Moon), 2 May (last quarter), 17 May (second quarter) and 24 May (Full Moon). I suspect that the rain of the week of 18 April is likely to be a near-miss for this area, with perhaps heavy rain just to our east, as indicated by the first-quarter moon at twenty-eight-and-a-half degrees of water sign Cancer, with twenty-nine degrees of Cancer on the lower meridian.

One of the more “interesting” episodes of wet weather appears to be scheduled for the week following the Full Moon of April, but not for this area; that Full Moon is also a lunar eclipse (not visible in North America) in conjunction with Saturn in water sign Scorpio, so where that sign is located on the lower meridian (western United States and Canada), extreme conditions can occur.  In the astromap below, the Moon and Saturn lines, marking where each is conjunct the lower meridian, are indicated by the dark-blue and brown rectangles near the bottom of the graphic.


(I note that my earlier anticipation of snowmelt flooding on the western slopes of the Appalachians did not play out, as the rainy system veered to the northeast, following the last quarter moon of 4 March.)

All this talk of wished-for rain brings to mind a photo of a plant-nursery sign that a friend sent me (thanks, MW): “It’s spring! I’m so excited I wet my plants.”

Addenda 20 March: Check out these two nationwide temperature maps—graphic representations of the regions dominated in the astronomical charts by cold Gemini. The western regions showing warmer conditions are dominated seasonally by temperate Taurus.





1. starjoy967@aol.com - 19/03/2013

You got that right –this winter won’t quit…..it’s been a good winter for hibernating…..interesting article you sent…….Peace, M

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