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Damage Done 26/06/2013

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: A twenty-five minute hurricane blew through here in the hour before sundown on Solstice Day. Up here on the relative heights of Minneapolis, lots of trees came down, along with two inches of rain. That’s right: two inches of rain in less than half an hour.

It was what the meteorologists now are calling “bow echo” storms, characterized by sixty-to-seventy mile-per-hour winds (with gusts even higher) and torrential rains. The damage path was twenty to twenty-five miles wide, and, according to Paul Douglas, equivalent to an EF-0 tornado. Estimates of eight hundred trees felled in Minneapolis and five hundred in St. Paul are in recent reports. And nearly six hundred thousand customers lost electric power for hours or days afterwards.

While I await the arrival of my rain gauge to begin reporting for the CoCoRaHS observer network, I’m using a crude receptacle to estimate rainfall: an old galvanized tub. It was empty at the moment of the solstice at 12:05 a.m. on the 21st, and began collecting rain a couple hours later. When the third rainstorm ended on the morning of the 22nd, it held about four-and-a-quarter inches. (That’s our monthly average for June.)

The weekend overall saw many places in the southern third of Minnesota affected by local flooding. Coming just after the anniversary of the great Duluth area flood of 2012, it’s forcing more people to wake up to the nature of our collective predicament: game over for “normal,” comfortable, predictable lives.

The deluge may have helped my yard ecology, contaminated earlier in the week by Mr. Tru-Green next door. I could see the mist of the anti-Japanese beetle insecticide drifting over onto my vegetables as I yelled, This is outrageous, that you can legally do this!!

But I have no way of knowing what damage it’s done (and could still do), just as I had no prior notice and no opportunity to at least cover up the vegetables.

This is what some people have to deal with, who see the importance of ecological restoration and food production on urban lots. We get absolutely no consideration in the matter, while those who want to keep chickens or bees have to get written approval from neighbors and pay a fee to get a permit from the city. That ain’t right. That is so not right.

While the solstice storm was striking here, a much greater scale of damage was already done through much of the Canadian province of Alberta, where life in metropolitan Calgary—“capital” of the tar sands extraction region—and beyond was severely disrupted. Much of the infrastructure was crippled, and the occupants of more than 100,000 homes were forced to evacuate. (Meanwhile, temperature records in the mid-nineties were being set in southwest Alaska: hotter than Miami, Florida.)

Columnist Andrew Nikiforuk of the Vancouver-based Tyee news organization reported:

The historic deluge re-arranged much geography in the Rocky Mountains, shut down Canada’s fourth largest city, destroyed the Calgary Zoo, crippled the city’s light rapid transit system, flooded scores of neighbourhoods and turned several Aboriginal communities and towns such as High River into full scale disaster zones. Damages to bridges, roads, towns and homes could exceed $5 billion.

This Youtube video shows the washout of the Trans Canada Highway as well as rail tracks at Canmore.

The stalled rainstorm that produced these floods occurred during the week following the First Quarter Moon of 16 June. Several things stand out in a comparison of that chart with the season chart.


Factor number one for interpreting the nature of the season is the sign Taurus on the lower meridian—ordinarily a pleasant and moist indicator. But the solar eclipse on 9 May fell two degrees from that meridian (the previous eclipse on 13 November 2012 fell exactly on the upper meridian). That is a likely-crisis indicator.

Taurus’ domicile ruler is Venus, whose keynote, according to George J. McCormack, is “humidity and warmth, and its general tendency weatherwise is to make moisture pregnant.” Venus in the season chart is in flood-prone Pisces, where Neptune (relating to freak situations) also resides.

It is the movement of Venus that appears to be the key factor in timing this event: Venus’ arrival at the local horizon (on the right side of the chart: the outer ring). Venus arrived at that point on the 17th, trailing about-to-go-retrograde Mercury before passing Mercury (usually the faster planet) on Solstice Day. And Venus is in water sign Cancer.

Another timing factor: The meridian and horizon of the First Quarter (1Q) chart clicked in with the season chart.  The meridian “flipped”: The upper meridian was at the place of the season’s lower meridian, while the 1Q Ascendant was exactly aligned with Neptune in the season chart.

The 1Q declination table shows the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter parallel: all within a range of 22.4 and 23.7 degrees north of the celestial equator. That is an unusual form of conjunction power: a get-one / get-‘em-all situation. With Mercury, then Venus, crossing the horizon of the season chart, the cosmic and atmospheric conditions were set for the location of Calgary and vicinity.

It is a cruel irony that the region’s tar sands operations require vast amounts of water, yet there was little in the way of a stream monitoring system in place to help hydrologists assess the dangers and issue warnings. The devastated Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, where the Trans-Canada Highway was cut, was overwhelmed before a flood warning was even issued.

Nikiforuk outlines how this gap came to be:

In the 1970s, the federal government set up the Inland Waters Directorate, in part to map and stop development on flood plains in the prairies. But the Liberal government of Jean Chretien dismantled the program in 1992. Governments since then, such as the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, have systemically reduced the role and functions of Environment Canada.

More irony: Calgary is Harper’s adopted home.

Oops. Chalk up another “triumph” of the unfettered “free market” system.

<- zoidion ->



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