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Squeaky Snow 05/12/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: As the long night began settling over the land, the great river and the city, I stood on a height of land a short walk from my house, to drink in the the fading glow, the clarity of the air, and the sight of the timeless crescent Moon and Venus above the industrial age skyline. Even now, they cast faint light through my frosty window.

A suddenly changed weather regime has charged across the North American continent, bringing record-setting snowfalls to northern Minnesota and promising to deliver a memorable cold wave to regions far and wide.

It’s not quite what I expected: “Dry, a little warmer.”

The week beginning with the New Moon on 2 December–only three days ago (?)–did begin dry and mild. As the first snow began falling several hours before the lunation, I noted a temperature of 38 degrees F–rather mild for this neck of the Great Woods. A couple of inches of heavy wet snow fell over the next several hours. The next morning was cloudy/foggy, calm, 37 degrees–and I noted 0.18 inch water in the rain/snow gauge. Another round of snow came that day–0.26 inch water–with the temperature remaining above freezing.

As the third round began on the morning of the 4th, the temperature was at the freezing mark, where it remained all day as several more inches of snow accumulated. This morning, I brought the gauge into the house to allow the snow to melt–it took over four hours, since I’m not one to use extra fossil fuel in the form of a pan of heated water. Another 0.42 inch of water. 

In case you’re not adding up the numbers, that comes to a total of 0.86 inch of precipitation–not particularly wet, not exactly dry. (In northeastern Minnesota, however, truly impressive snowfalls happened: 35.3 inches near Two Harbors, on Lake Superior near Duluth.)

But as I stood facing Moon and Venus, I could feel the heat (and moisture) draining from my face, and I walked home to the familiar, new sound of squeaky snow.

What in the realm of symbols accounts for the difference between forecast and reality? What advance clues were available for such a dramatic entrance into winter for most of this continent?

The chart for the week, for the New Moon, holds mixed signals. It shows the sign Virgo on the lower meridian, which place in the chart represents the place in question and, typically, half of the astrometeorological analysis. Virgo is of the earth element, thus cold in nature, and dry–Virgo is ruled by dry, windy Mercury.

Mercury in turn is with Saturn (cold, storms) in the extreme water sign Scorpio.

But Mars is also in Virgo, on the western side of the meridian: another indication of dryness that suggests some heating, though not much.

The wettest sign, Cancer, is on the Ascendant–the eastern horizon–indicating what is approaching or arriving; the ruler, the Moon, is in fire sign Sagittarius. So some precipitation, but probably not a lot from this quarter of the analysis. However, Jupiter is in Cancer, and Jupiter rules Sagittarius. For analysis’ sake, Moon and Jupiter can exchange places: more moisture, more heat differential to power storms. In addition, Jupiter is opposed to Venus, which increases the moisture potential somewhat.

Water sign Pisces is on the upper meridian. And then there’s the Pluto factor (close to the western horizon): driving events to extremes.

There are other signals for the cold wave, one of them being the Moon’s movement. Since 1 December, the Moon has approached and crossed the upper meridian of the season chart: the one most pertinent to temperature changes. In so doing, the Moon has “collected” the energies first of Saturn (cold), then of Venus (moisture in moderate degree), in crossing the meridian and arcing toward the Ascendant: the very cold earth sign, Capricorn where Pluto now resides. The cold wave advanced as Moon entered Capricorn and then “crossed the line,” beginning to spill Arctic air across the rest of the continent.

(The Capricorn Ascendant in the season chart applies to the central zone, from the longitude of the Montana-North Dakota border almost to Cleveland, Ohio. This zone is in line to receive the brunt of the cold blast.)

There’s more to this in the details: On 1 December the Moon occulted first Saturn (cold, storms), then Mercury (wind) in the current sky: astronomical events similar to eclipses. As such, they indicate interruptions in the existing conditions and flow of the energies, and the opportunity for the energies to take different pathways.

Coming as they did one month after the solar eclipse (3 November), the Moon was beginning the second pass through the cycle of the zodiac: distributing and developing a new atmospheric regime, in concert with a changed Earth.

The sudden onset of snow and severe cold certainly poses risks for the unlucky or unwary in North America, but for perspective be mindful of a now-named Windstorm Xaver  simultaneously wreaking havoc upon the great funnel of the North Sea: “One of the most dangerous storms in sixty years . . . major storm-surge flooding from Scotland to Denmark . . . winds greater than 100 miles per hour.”

And survivors in the Philippines will long be struggling to rebuild and reclaim their lives in the aftermath of Haiyan.

It seems, in this era of accelerating weather weirding, that no one will long remain personally untouched.

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