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Snark und Schadenfreude 27/08/2013

Posted by zoidion in Climate, Event, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s hot and muggy. That’s the story. Folks are miserable around here, and a new heat record was set yesterday. Two actually: a record high temperature, and latest date for a low temperature of eighty.

Field crops are stressed, gardens too. Birds are desperate for drinking water:  I found two drowned birds, and a barely-alive-and-struggling one, in the shallow water in one of my rain barrels—a very sad discovery.

The weather is almost a replay of a year ago: the first weeks of a very severe drought.

Checking Paul Douglas’ weather blog this morning, I scrolled down a ways to this item:

More Horoscope Than Science?

Hey, I like the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s like seeing an old (slightly crazy) friend every year. Truth: if you could accurately (consistently) predict weather 6-12 months in advance you’d have Romney money, or maybe even Elon Musk money.  Billions. You’d be able to buy your own island in the Caribbean. Thanks in large part to chaos theory and the sheer complexity of the atmosphere, predicting precipitation or temperature beyond 15-20 days is voodoo. It’s equivalent to predicting what the price of Apple stock will be on February 3, 2014. Good luck. There’s no skill. Zero. Sometimes an evolving La Nina or El Nino pattern can tilt the odds in a certain direction and we can issue trend forecasts “warmer in the east, drier in the west”, but specificity beyond a couple of weeks is wishful thinking. And basing a long-range (weather) forecast on sunspots and other “factors”? They’ve never released the methadology [sic] behind these 6-12 month forecasts. Questionable at best. But as a source of interesting weather nuggets and curious prognistications [sic] the Farmers Almanac is a source of endless fascination. Disclaimer aside, the F.A. is predicting a cold, snowy winter east of the Rockies. Uh huh. Details in today’s edition of Climate Matters . . .

Such haughty ignorance: a perfect self-setup for schadenfreude. Maybe the obnoxious heat’s gotten to him, though I dare say Mr. Douglas lives and works in plenty of “air conditioning.” (Not me, I’m sweating it out with a fan.) I sure hope he was able to calm down from his hyperventilation episode without medical intervention.

But at least he got it right in the title. And it’s entertaining when a High Priest of Science gets all snarky about an area that’s outside of his belief system, but which he has not deigned to study in the slightest. And he wonders why there’s so much skepticism and denial of climate science and its practitioners’ warnings about climate change.

Ah yes—we all have our blind spots. One aspect of wisdom surely is keeping that in mind—along with (paraphrasing) a saying attributed to Winston Churchill: We all have “much to be humble about.”

Note to Mr. Douglas: Your pontifications might be a tad more believable if you managed to learn how to spell, or at least run a spell-check before publishing. Oh, and one more thing: You might want to refresh your memory by looking back into the deep recesses of time—back to the winter of 2012: a record-breaking warm and dry winter.

In a spirit of inquiry, let’s have a look at indications for circumstances of the Big Bash, and evaluate bases for concern.

The base chart is that for the winter season, beginning 21 December 2013 at 12:12 p.m. EST, and set for the event venue: the Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, New Jersey. (I’ve directed Time Passages to set up a tri-wheel chart with the Capricorn ingress at the center, the New Moon of 30 January in the middle, and game time—isn’t it 7:00 p.m.?—on 2 February on the outside.)


With Cancer on the lower meridian—denoting the prime characteristics of what happens there “on the ground”—a season of plentiful snow can be expected. Cancer is a water sign, the wettest of all, governed by the monthly cycle of the Moon—thus, the placement of the Moon is influential. In the chart for this location, the Moon is in fire sign Leo—by itself, an indication of minimal moisture. But Cancer on the lower meridian is key, as is the placement of the Moon close to one of the power spots in the chart: what I call the “intermediate angles” at one-eighth intervals from the meridian; one of them is at 18 Leo 59, slightly less than two degrees from the Moon, and cold-and-stormy Saturn is on another. What this means is that the longitude in question is sensitized or receptive for that season for events combining moisture and cold.

Another longitudinal point: Jupiter in Cancer is relatively near the lower meridian. The significance of this is, in G. J. McCormack’s words, “to elevate temperature with accompanying rising barometer.” Thus, it is more of a fair-weather factor, but much more of a factor in the zone of 60 degrees West: It should be a lovely season in the eastern Caribbean.


(The Jupiter line runs vertically near the right side of the astromap above.)

A key point, though, is represented by Uranus very close to the horizon: an indication that this location will experience considerable blasts of arctic air and record-breaking cold snaps. This will be the border zone between bitter cold and not-so-cold, and it’s near the Atlantic Ocean. Moisture in motion and colliding with the cold air can produce some storms memorable for their surprise development and record-breaking snowfalls, drifting and ice accumulation. In other words, a season of perilous precipitation.

Mars on the western horizon, in close opposition to Uranus, betokens a violent season—in McCormack’s words, “provocative of wind velocity . . . unfavorable to aviation in the upper air levels”—marked by exceedingly rapid shifts from one weather regime to the next.

What about Game Week?

Well, coming just three days after the New Moon in Aquarius, Game Day is in the coldest stretch of the season. But as both bodies, Sun and Moon, will then be coming into alignment with the Moon (and the “intermediate angles”) in the season chart, the moisture component of the atmosphere will be increased. Not only that: the lunar perigee (the Moon’s closest approach to Earth during the month) on 30 January, concurrent with the New Moon; thus, the lunar gravitation will have a bit more potency in steering air masses and clouds. Fortunately for folks in the northern hemisphere, the Moon will be near maximum southern declination.

But that doesn’t mean that organizers, participants, special event and emergency managers, and spectators are going to get off easy.

It does look like a major storm will be developing: a factor of considerable difficulty, but not yet packing its full punch. The wind shift and wallop come the day after The Game, as Moon crosses the horizon and the season position of Uranus (and opposes that of Mars).

The presence of Mars exactly on the lower meridian at the time of the local New Moon is, well, appropriate for the spectacle of violent sport. In view of the ongoing controversy about injuries, debilitation and death accompanying American football, it seems likely that somehow—perhaps in regard to events on the field—this Super Bowl will go down as a game-changer. As for weather indications, it is a warming influence that, in combination with others already mentioned, that contributes to a violent clash of weather systems.

Speaking of wind, which is primarily Mercury’s domain, mid-week after The Game wind becomes more of a challenging factor, as Mercury “stations” to begin a three-week period of apparent retrograde motion. Capricious winds can be expected to wreak more than usual havoc. (The Mercury-into-Pisces chart, not shown, with Mercury close to Neptune, has identical signs and degrees on meridian and horizon as in the season chart.)

It doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to imagine a spectacle outside the stadium—a spectacle of snarled traffic, stranded travelers, emergencies galore. For many trying to get from one place to another, the risks and prospects of dire consequences are apt to be all too real; for the rest: a further reminder that global weirding is the norm, and attempting to carry on  business and pleasure as usual is a fool’s game.

Oh, and speaking of birds: Mr. Douglas would do well to prepare his palate for the taste of crow.

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Dry Again 21/08/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: A warm, cloudy, muggy day follows last night’s bright Full Moon in a hazy sky that illuminated two pale moonflower blossoms. They provided another instance of an increasingly tenuous connection to what has been reliable. In previous years, at least half a dozen moonflower plants grew up through the cracks in the concrete behind the garage: in the area that I envision having a row of rosehip bushes (providing fruit rich in vitamin C) and a trellis attached to the garage). This year, none appeared there: a still-small one, the one that’s been blooming for the past two weeks, appeared near the stump of the silver maple, and an even smaller one is in the herb garden that I started this season.

There have been just a few sightings of monarch flutterbys, and their favorite food—the milkweed flowers—has closed up shop to make seed. Plenty of bumblebees have been coming around, thanks especially to the blue-star-flowered borage plants and now the goldenrod, but I’ve yet to spot a honeybee, even though there’s a hive located only two blocks away. In the front yard, under the misplaced Colorado spruce, the great colony of purple touch-me-not (Impatiens balsamina) that I started with a dozen seeds from a neighbor’s yard seven years ago is also coming into bloom—a bit early, it seems to me; those tender succulents have benefited from the deep layer of leaf mulch from the nearby river birch.

Wherever it’s unprotected by mulch or vegetation—which is almost nowhere in our yard—the ground is dry again, though not nearly to the degree of last year’s severe drought.

Late summer—by which I mean the month of August—is typically a dry period in this region: At least that’s what I recall. And yet, over the period 1981-2010, the Twin Cities area has averaged somewhat more than 4.5 inches of rain (see map here).  But my backyard rain gauge has registered only 0.77 inch of rain: much below average though in line with indications present in the relevant charts.

The current week (beginning with the Full Moon) has the earmarks of an especially dry one, along with an increase in heat and humidity: both Sun and Moon in the lunation are aligned with the horizon of the local chart for the season; the lower meridian is again in dry Gemini; and the lord of the lower meridian is Mercury, in dry fire sign Leo.


Frankly, I see little chance of significant rain over this area until after the Libra ingress on 22 September. The most noteworthy precipitation within this approximate band of longitude—with likely flooding to be reported—appears cosmically scheduled for the week of the First Quarter Moon that begins on 12 September, but again, more southern latitudes are the target zone.

The Ozark Plateau region—northwestern Arkansas and most of southern Missouri—has lately received a large dose of rainfall: as much as sixteen inches in the week following the Last Quarter Moon on 29 July. (See the story here.) With essentially the same lower meridian in the season chart as for this area, the summer’s flood-alert belt was indicated there by Neptune in water sign Pisces (on the horizon of the season chart). The trigger—the timing factor—was the 29 July Moon opposite Saturn in close configuration with Neptune.

Here? Well, here the need is to conserve water, and for some . . . to acquire and set up another rain barrel or two to see the garden through to harvest time.

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