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Mayday! Mayday! 01/05/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It was fun while it lasted. Heck, it was spectacular.  We lost that last—or was it last?—snow in a hurry. The temperature shot up past sixty on the 26th—tying the record for latest date to reach that level of warmth—and attained eighty on the 28th.

People emerged from their caves in droves and thronged every outdoor eatery and drinkery. Feet were adorned with sandals; calves, thighs and midriffs were bared. Our house windows were open, night and day. I found it delightful to wake to the early light, to the gentle clatter of wooden chimes and the first chirps of the birds. It was bizarre, and wonderful.

I did my share of celebrating, and more than my share of digging. I’m glad to have a plausible excuse for taking a few days off, as elbows, wrists and knees issue a steady complaint. But I got the herb patch ready for planting. It’s roughly chevron-shaped, fifteen feet along the two longest sides, along which I dug trenches, laid in branches and dry stalks from perennials, and raked the soil on top to form berms. To help contain and hold the rainwater. I shaped an elevated area and a basin, and extended a leader to conduct rainwater from one corner of the house’s gutter system.

The latter was inspired by a couple of water management stories I looked at while waiting for the snow to melt. They show projects in rather different climates: central Illinois (recently hit by very heavy rains) and the desert regime of Tucson, Arizona. See Midwest Permaculture and The Oil Drum.

While I’m at it, let me direct your attention to a fascinating project to begin reviving sail-powered freight boats in the inland waterways of the Northeast. The Vermont Sail Freight Project and its instigator, Erik Andrus, are building a boat dedicated to shipping Vermont farm products to New York City and other markets via Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal, and the Hudson River. Author James Howard Kunstler—whose post-peak oil novels World Made by Hand and The Witch of Hebron I recommend—has a podcast episode about this at his Kunstlercast site. I find this very exciting. Check it out.

Alas, the beginning of May is still within the average last frost date for this area. And also within the historic last snow date.

And so the cooler-than-average pattern of the season is returning as the Full Moon week gives way to the Last Quarter. And no surprise, really.

As you may recall from the previous post, the Full Moon (lunar eclipse) chart for this location featured fire sign Sagittarius on the crucial lower meridian—hence the welcome surge of warmth.  I note that the warmest day here coincided with the Sun-Saturn opposition, which indicates a shift to a distinctly unpleasant period. (George J. McCormack, in A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting, summarizes this astronomical combination: “Lower barometer. Dull to overcast skies. EASTERLY WINDS. Heavy downfall, colder.”)

Sun and Saturn were obscurely placed in the Full Moon chart for this location (and for this band of longitude). Not so for this next week.

In the Fourth Quarter chart (within minutes of sunrise on the 2nd), this region gets a strong dose of Sun-Saturn: across the horizon.


And like the First Quarter chart—for the week that brought us a parade of snowstorms—this chart has cool water sign Cancer on the lower meridian. This time the moisture-indicating Moon is in cold Aquarius. And configurations such as this, with many bodies in “fixed” signs (Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius this time) can correlate with some quite persistent weather systems. Here we go yet again.

Already, after periods of light rain through the morning, snow is coming down and the temperature has dropped to thirty-six, as I type these last words near noon. Since 1891, there have been only five two-inch-plus snowfalls in May in the Twin Cities. I do not find that reassuring. Not this year.


– Pete(r) Doughty –



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