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Dramatically Different 23/04/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The day dawned bright, with last night’s thick snow clouds receding to the east, and with every branch and twig and wire coated with the wettest, stickiest snow there can be. Not for long. For today at least, the scene outside is almost unbearably bright.

Yesterday morning, I could wait no longer to plug most of my kale “trees” into one of my raised beds. On Sunday, I set them, still in their plastic containers, outside for another dose of the real world; they got rained on and spent the night outside for the first time. They’re hardy little guys, but they become way hardier big guys: I looked up the section on kale in Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts, which says kale are hardy to six degrees Fahrenheit. I dare say that applies to the other end of the growing season.

With the prospect of more snow coming as I labored with freezing hands, I considered and prepared supports for laying a tarp to keep the snow from breaking them. But I gave that up, figuring the snow would probably collapse the tarp and break them that way. So they’re out there, out of sight. I suppose I’ll know by sundown how they fared.

There are so many other garden projects underway or planned that I can hardly wait for this snow to disappear—and for no more to fall! There’s at least one more trench to dig and fill with tree branches before the rest of the veggies go in the ground. There’s a big plastic can in the garage half-full of vegetable scraps accumulated through the winter, to add to the compost pile. There’s the area to dig up and plant with herbs. There are all those big and medium-sized rounds of silver maple wood that need to be stacked up somewhere out of the way. And all those twigs—I realized that bundles of them were just being picked up by the regular trash collectors to go to the trash burner downtown next to the Twins’ Target Field and the hip North Loop residential/entertainment neighborhood (an unlovely combination to contemplate). So rather than bundle up the rest, I think I’ll let them dry a bit, then burn them and add the ash to the soil right here. Recycling: That’s the idea.

Checking the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (aka CoCoRaHS), confirms what a predictably wet—and cold—lunation week, beginning the 18th, this has been. (One can find a reporting station fairly near one’s own location.) There have been three precipitation events: 0.95 inch of moisture on the 19th, 0.17 on the 21st, and 0.47 on the 22nd—a total of 1.59 inches. The average precipitation for the month of April is 2.25 inches. Throughout the state, temperatures on the morning of the 20th set record lows: 21 here, 11 in Duluth, -14 (yes, that’s a minus) in Embarrass.

But the weather regime is due for an abrupt change. The week marked by the Full Moon (lunar eclipse) will be notable for some nasty storms—the axis of the Full Moon also includes Mars and Saturn. But, thankfully, it looks like a week of respite for us in this region.

From my study of many of these lunation charts and observing the weather patterns, I am becoming convinced that the lunations—the new, quarter and full moons—indicate more than moisture potential. The contrast between this past week’s and the coming week’s (beginning on the 25th) charts is dramatic.

The chart for the first quarter on the 18th featured the Moon in water sign Cancer, where she is most at home, and on the lower meridian, with the energetic Sun-Mars conjunction in Aries. Hence the train of storms, the cold temperatures—still no sixty-degree temperature and high level of precipitation.


The full moon / lunar eclipse chart features dry, warm Sagittarius on the lower meridian.


(This was also the case with the season chart for the strangely dry, warm winter of 2011-12.) Jupiter, lord of Sagittarius, is in the opposite sign and sector of the chart—at last warmer air pours in from the south.

Let’s enjoy it. I think we’ve earned it.

– Pete(r) Doughty –


Wintril Update 20/04/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.

Twin Cities ephemera: Ten inches. An even ten inches. That’s how much snow fell in the latest storm, tapering off yesterday, at the nearest official weather station to my place. More fell immediately west and north of the Cities, and throughout the region it was very heavy, wet snow. Duluth got nearly eighteen inches, establishing a new local record for April.

It seems more precipitation—April showers?—are due tomorrow. So we have today to enjoy the sun, and if the sky remains clear til sundown, it would be the first such day since the 4th.

The intensity of bright light outside is hard to handle, with the sun as high in the sky and the day as long as in late August. At least a fair amount of melting will happen.

A small patch of dark relief is in the backyard: two of our raised beds. I covered them with a tarp before the storm arrived, and stripped it off yesterday. Actually, I had to shovel the snow off, it was so heavy.

I’m not going to bet we won’t get more snow yet this “spring.” But within the next few days, I’m going to take a chance with putting some of my kale “trees” into one of those raised beds. I’ve also got some sprouting potatoes that I’m keeping in the cool and dark in the basement—I’ll put some of them in the ground after the full moon—a better time to start root and tuber crops.

The way the sky cleared out late in the day, with a strong wind dislodging clods of snow from tree branches, a cold night was obvious. And so it was—twenty degrees at daybreak today. I was glad I replaced the tarp for the night.

(It was fascinating to note how quickly the birds showed up when I initially uncovered those beds. Small birds are desperate for bare ground where they can search for food. There have been reports that large flocks of robins and other species have congregated in parks where there are south-facing slopes; apparently they are unable to migrate farther north because of the persistent snow cover.)

It’s not just here where precipitation has been heavy. The indications for heavy downfall during the first-quarter lunation certainly came to pass. I anticipated that the heaviest precipitation would take place at a slightly more eastern location, and that the central Mississippi Valley would be wetter through the season than here in the northern section.

The map below, showing precipitation on the 18th, bears out the pattern.


The epicenter of precipitation from this storm appears to have been in the vicinity of Macomb, Illinois, near the convergence of that state with Iowa and Missouri. (Reports indicated that the Chicago area dealt with considerable urban flooding.) The latitude of Macomb, where six-to-eight-inches of rain fell, was where flood-and-freak-weather Neptune was quite close to the Ascendant of the season chart, so this was perhaps the season-punctuating event. (One ought to hope for no worse than this: The storm quickly pushed river levels in the storm area to or beyond flood stage.)

But what provided the astronomical trigger was this: the extraordinary potency of the Sun-Mars conjunction in combination with the lunation—at which the Moon was at the lower meridian—plus the solar eclipse point of November 2012 (in water sign Scorpio) upon the local lunation horizon.


Still, this event emphasizes another principle of interpretation—that there is a zone of solar/lunar/planetary influence that transcends sign boundaries. In this case, the Moon is in the twenty-ninth degree of watery Cancer—a combination that signals a downpour—while the lower meridian is in the second degree of hot, dry Leo.

– Pete(r) Doughty –

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