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Winter 2014 Overview 03/12/2013

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The first flakes of wet snow began falling yesterday a few hours before the New Moon, concluding a notably dry week, as anticipated. I’d been noting how dry the soil surface was in contrast to October’s wetness; the climatologists agree that moderate drought has lately returned to this area. But I felt satisfied that I’d done what I could to feed the soil in my garden with water: I left one of my water barrels in place to catch the rain that came on 16 November, distributed the water, then upended the barrel until snowmelt time.

As yesterday’s snow began covering the grass and garden beds, I gave in to the urge to grab a couple more bags of leaves and add them to the compost bin in the community garden. That earned me a shout from a neighbor: You didn’t rake your leaves! I shouted back: It’s mulch, man! But I’m sure he didn’t hear. I’ve never known him to be willing to have a conversation: He just barks from a distance.

I wanted to ask him if he really thinks it’s smart for us taxpayers to have nearly $3 million a year  spent in this city to have leaves and other yard “waste” picked up by city trucks and hauled somewhere outside the city for “composting.”

I marvel at the rows of brown paper bags that folks line up next to most garages, and consider the amount of effort involved in filling them, the amount of paper material, and the energy cost in manufacturing and marketing them. (But hey, it’s economic growth, right?)

It seems to me it would be a lot smarter to have compost bins working in most yards, and larger composting operations going in every neighborhood. But no–at least, not yet.

Put that in the context of harder and divisive choices that most states, cities and towns face, and it becomes clear that such absurdities must end soon. As Nicole Foss points out, Americans have already seen a “complex scenario of broken promises unfold, with over-burdened municipalities desperately trying to keep faith with bondholders and pensioners at the expense of residents, who face a downward spiral of tax rises and service cuts. The squeeze is well underway and is destined to worsen until it becomes impossible to keep any class of promises.”

 (How long will it be, I wonder, before economic conditions and a general cultural shift lead to the scene in the photo in this blog post becoming a common picture in America?)

A couple of days earlier, I had a sanity break in the form of a visit by an acquaintance who has helped start a nonprofit whose mission is to get low-cost raised-bed garden boxes and vegetable seedlings to low-income people here. (You can see and hear his recent TEDx Talk here.) I arranged for him to come by and advise me on how to prune the cherry tree that M and I put in a year-and-a-half ago. It looks like a tangled mass of branches at this point, but he advised leaving it alone for another year before pruning about sixty percent of it away. In the meantime, the root system will continue developing, and that will support a tremendous spurt of growth and fruit production in 2015.

It fits with the well-known saying among gardeners about the pace of garden development and the need for patience: sleep, creep, leap.

I suppose the same might be said about anyone’s readiness for necessary change.

Outline for the season in the upper Mississippi River basin: Winter 2014

The season overall can be expected to be relatively cool and dry, though with rapid changes and marked variations in temperature. Precipitation events will mostly be relatively light amounts, but that does not preclude challenging weather events, especially in the first half of February.

Week by Week

Full Moon: 17 – 24 December
Unseasonably cold (close to historic records), dry

Fourth Quarter: 25 – 31 December
Cold, windy, turbulent (though much less so than in the Rocky Mountain region)

New Moon: 1 – 7 January (lunar perigee 1 January)
A little snow at beginning of period, abrupt shift to colder regime; quickly developing problematic weather reported elsewhere toward end of period

First Quarter: 8 – 15 January
Relatively pleasant through most of period

Full Moon: 16 – 23 January
Cold with a significant snowstorm carrying over from end of previous period; a more active and fast-moving weather pattern

Fourth Quarter: 24 – 30 January (lunar perigee 30 January)
Colder with a little snow

New Moon: 31 January – 6 February
Clearing and warmer: a pleasant interval, wind relatively quiet until about 2 February, when a wind shift, fog and/or drizzle can be expected: probably an episode of the dreaded ice storm conditions

First Quarter: 7 – 14 February
Wet, drizzly, more freezing rain likely

Full Moon: 15 – 21 February
A rude shift back to cold coming on a dramatic and memorable Valentine’s Day

Fourth Quarter: 22 – 28 February (lunar perigee 27 February)
Warmer as sun breaks through fog/drizzle

New Moon: 1 – 7 March
Warmer though unstable

First Quarter: 8 – 15 March
Damp with pleasant interludes among rapidly changing weather systems

Full Moon: 16 – 23 March
Dry at first, changing to damp, drizzly

The season chart is posted below.

Cap-Ingress-2013

It bears some similarity to the one for the Vernal Equinox 2013: Air sign Gemini, ruled by Mercury (here near the upper meridian, in fire sign Sagittarius), is again on the lower meridian: accounting for half of the general forecast. Again, Neptune is near the Ascendant, this time actually exactly on the Ascendant; this is an indicator for some instances of foggy / drizzly / freezing rain events.  The Moon–the primary indicator of moisture–at a sixty-degree angle to the lower meridian is a clue that the Twin Cities area is likely to experience a notable such event, with attendant transportation difficulties.

The expectation of a general worldwide increase in weather turbulence in late 2013 and through the first half of 2014 is linked to the lengthy stay of Mars in Libra: 7 December through 25 July. Mars opposes Uranus–a particularly violent combination–in the Capricorn ingress chart (21 December), and zones where this axis is upon the horizon or meridian will bear the brunt of atmospheric forces: more on this later. Venus’ extended stay in Capricorn (5 November through 5 March), together with Jupiter’s year-long stay in Cancer (26 June 2013 through 15 July 2014), adds to an “interesting” time, weather-wise and otherwise.

Mars-Uranus and Venus-Jupiter form a potent cross, and the Sun, Moon and Mercury play their episodic parts. The week beginning New Year’s Day looks to be particularly memorable.

Within a decade of upheaval, in the first half of 2014 the pace of upheaval quickens.

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