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One More Round 10/04/2013

Posted by zoidion in History, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Mid-morning, 10 April, snow coating the ground and roofs visible outside my window. It’s a little hard to believe, this additional round of the white stuff, even though I’ve lived here a long time and seen it before. The techno-weather folks are in essential agreement that a lot more moisture will be falling over the next thirty-six hours: at least six inches here in the Cities, a foot-and-a-half or even more to the southwest—up to one to two inches of water content, bringing a much increased prospect for flooding. Travel conditions are likely to become quite hazardous: Paul Douglas cautions, “Near-blizzard conditions can’t be ruled out in the northern/western suburbs of the Twin Cities by Thursday [the 11th]. . . One of the problems with this storm: very slow forward motion, which will prolong heavy rain, ice and snow, complicating travel, and increasing the potential for impacts to facilities and possible power outages. The center of this unusually intense storm is forecast to reach Ohio by Friday, pushing strong to severe storms into the Northeast by Friday [the 12th].”

Yikes. I’ve been, even if a bit reluctantly, ready for spring, for planting. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right, despite my informed expectation of at least a chilly spring.

I grabbed the glorious sunny days of last week to tackle the big load of wood on the ground after having that tall silver maple cut. Lacking access to a biochar burner, the small stuff has mostly been already bundled up for the city crew to pick up. (I’m not sure what happens to it—I really oughta find out.) The bigger logs and branches are now all sorted and piled up, and I’m ready to start using some of them—underground.

On the 4th—the last of the stretch of sunny days—I spent the day on the road with my friend J for a look at some of the land, towns and waterways to the south. First stop was Northfield on the Cannon River, a two-college town with a lovely old two-block main street and scene of the renowned 1876 bank raid by the James-Younger gang out of Missouri; one can still see bullet pockmarks in the stone of what is now the historical society building. The river flow was impressive, but down from the high-water mark on the 30th.

And about that river: There ought to be a campaign to change the name. There’s no record of any battle involving cannon in that area. But according to Where the Waters Gather and the Rivers Meet: An Atlas of the Eastern Sioux, by Paul Durand, “The present name is a corruption of the French name ‘Riviere aux Canots’ (canoes) as traders and buffalo hunters often hid their canoes in the swampy mouth of this river.” The Dakota name is musical: In-yan Bo-sda-ta.

As we passed into the bluff country, I noted many swift-running streams of snowmelt—precious moisture running off the still-frozen dry land. But all that cold water was making small impact on the ice of Lake Pepin, a partly-dammed stretch of the Mississippi.

 LakePepin-ice

It was a wonderful outing, especially the couple of hours spent at the nearly-deserted Lake City rest stop. I’d never stopped there before: during the travel season, it always looked too busy and noisy to be attractive—a mere blur by the side of Highway 61. But now I could notice some details: some of the trees are black walnuts, which I now know can be valuable for hardwood but are the bane of gardeners; the plaque facing across the “lake” (one might think, but actually ninety degrees off) toward Maiden Rock on the Wisconsin side summarizes the eponymous legend: a young woman leapt to her death rather than accept an imposed marriage to an older man she did not love. But the plaque’s surroundings seem to represent the larger story involving the native tribes.

MaidenRockmon-back

 With several days of ugly weather expected, I got outside Monday the 8th to do some digging: a trench along one ten-foot section of the north border. Once this latest precipitation melts I’ll place several branches, maybe even logs, in there to help create a water-catching berm and to feed the soil by slow decomposition.

How does this week’s storm accord with astronomical conditions? The short answer: Primarily with the unusual combination of the energetic and turbulent Aries New Moon in conjunction with both Venus and Mars: all closely connected by a sixty-degree angle to the Ascendant in the chart below.

NM-Apr2013

Referring to the Venus-Mars combination, George McCormack wrote in A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting:

When Venus forms a conjunction with Mars, the moist nature of the former is energized and, following a sharp rise in temperature, showery weather may be expected. The chief characteristic is dashing rain.

And/or driving snow, when in combination with the generally cold and windy seasonal conditions previously outlined. And accentuated by the nature of this particular New Moon. The full potency of this storm has awaited the Sun and Moon catching up with and passing Venus and Mars. Hence the details of the techno-weather forecasts.

(It’s instructive to note Paul Douglas’ earlier expectation of this storm’s timing: “Heavier, steadier rain possible next Tuesday PM [the 9th] into Wednesday [the 10th].” Apparently he didn’t have the benefit of astronomical factors to add to his analysis. Actually, there was a period of rain in the morning, but as of late morning of the 10th, the full brunt of the storm has yet to develop.)

As for its slow forward motion across the continent’s midsection, that seems represented by the tenancy of Mercury in Pisces. Mercury is lord of Gemini, which occupies the crucial lower meridian in this season—and that is the case for the whole stretch of territory from Denver to New York. Mercury shifts from Pisces into Aries on the 13th: the pace of weather system movement is apt to increase then.

The wet pattern for the midsection is also due for a shift, keeping in mind that in the season chart Mercury is not only in water sign Pisces but also closely conjunct Neptune, associated with freak weather and flood conditions. Mercury shifting into Aries (from late on 13 April to 1 May) indicates a change to a drier pattern.

Also of note: the contrast between the chill in the midsection and the warm pattern on the east coast. Douglas summarizes: “Much of the east is experiencing May-like warmth with 70s and 80s, but March is hanging on for dear life over the Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley.” The east—the northeast in particular—has the Sun rising in the season chart.

Lucky them—this time.

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