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Tornado Watch 21/04/2014

Posted by zoidion in Event, forecast, Long Emergency, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The latest (last?) snow has melted away, almost as a mirage. A half-cold week that began with the lunar eclipse—an eerie sight in the midnight sky, with Mars and Spica—brought, the following day, about five inches of heavy snow to the backyard: Even before it began falling, the soil temperature had dropped five degrees from the week before. A band of snow up to a foot-and-a-half fell within thirty miles north of here.

Over the next several days, the temperature crept upward, and the solar radiation through he clouds also went to work on the snow. Two blustery days, the sun occasionally parting the clouds. Then a mild day that called me outside to get the composting season started.

It had dawned on me at some point over the winter that with a three-foot-by-three-foot-by-three-foot compost bin that I acquired three years ago—and expanded to nine-foot-length two years ago—provided plenty of composting power. I could pass on the small black-plastic bin: the gardener’s gateway drug.

So I took a quick photo, posted it with a description on the Twin Cities Free Market web site, and took the Sunday off from checking email. I found out this morning that a lot of people had pounced on that listing, several within the first hour. That was a gratifying response, but I know I had to disappoint nearly a dozen people.

That absence now opens up a spot for one of two American hazelnut trees. After yesterday’s gloriously warm and sunny weather, and today’s sunny and breezy conditions, I was feeling very ready to put two in the ground. (The soil temperature was back to the low fifties.) But I’ll have to wait. Dang.

It’s that season again, when contending warm and cold air masses, fueled by the moisture wafting northward from the Gulf of Mexico, bring the threat of devastation to the midsection of the North American continent. But of course, springtime is merely the most active and notorious period for tornado activity. And North America has no monopoly on this type of storm.

But the focus here is on, well, here. And the planetary configurations that might help one to anticipate danger and live (even survive) accordingly.

Back in the year 2000, years before I began studying astrometeorology in earnest, I gathered a few sheets of information and a map on the biggest of them all: the Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925, which devastated a swath beginning in southeastern Missouri, across southernmost Illinois, into southwestern Indiana: 219 miles. On the ground for three-and-one-half hours. Now reckoned as an F5 tornado on the Fujita scale, with winds perhaps exceeding 300 miles per hour. 695 deaths, 234 in Murphysboro, IL alone. 2,027 injuries. Nineteen communities in thirteen counties affected. (Strangely, Murphysboro–perhaps deserving of the unwelcome title “tornado capital of the world” (though that was said in 2013 about Moore, Oklahoma)–was the recipient of an F4/F5 tornado on 18 December 1957, one of nineteen in Illinois that day, the latest in any year that a tornado of that strength has been recorded.)

Since the 1925 event occurred several days before the vernal equinox, the seasonal stage was set 21 December 1924, with Saturn on the lower meridian and Neptune on the ascendant showing the region ripe for stormy and unusually humid conditions (Venus low in the chart also guaranteeing an added measure of moisture). Tellingly perhaps, the preceding lunar eclipse fell exactly on the western horizon, opposite Neptune.

On 13 March 1925, at the moment when Mercury entered Aries, that planet was exactly conjunct the eastern horizon, and close to the place of Mars in the season chart; the upper meridian was exactly conjunct the season’s Sun-Jupiter conjunction: a big event involving wind. Sun had passed Uranus the previous day: a timing factor for increasing atmospheric turbulence; and over the next several days, Venus would approach both, cueing more moisture.


The configuration for the first quarter Moon on 17 March shows violent forces about to be unleashed: Venus / Uranus / Sun / Mercury all near the zenith, with slowest-moving Pluto–closely opposite Mercury in the season chart–close to the ascendant.

1Q Mar 1925

When the Tri-State Tornado first touched down at Ellington, Missouri, on 1:01 p.m. on the 18th, Mercury was exactly on the upper meridian, in a tight right angle to an exact opposition of Moon (with Jupiter) and Pluto. No wonder if was such a monster.


When it arrived at Murphysboro, at 2:34 p.m., meridian and horizon were nearly identical to those of the season chart.


And when it dissipated at Petersburg, Indiana, at 4:30 p.m., Mercury was exactly quincunx to the ascendant (and ruling it, as well as the upper meridian). Moon was approaching perigee two days later.

As for Murphysboro 1957–those folks ought to hire a town astrologer–the relevant season chart (the Libra ingress) put Uranus near the ascendant, and Venus and Neptune near the lower meridian. Ripening again. Fullness of atmospheric conditions is shown in the fourth quarter Moon of 13 December: Moon exactly conjunct the ascendant, and only one degree from Moon (and eight degrees from Mars) in the season chart, and Venus having arrived at the western horizon. Jupiter had moved to the lower meridian: time for something big.


The unleashing waited until 4:45 p.m.–sundown–on the 18th, when Moon was just passing Mars.

Murphysboro Tornado 1957

The 2011 tornado season produced the record for most tornadoes in one day (199 on 27 April) as well as the most catastrophic single tornado (the F5 multiple-vortex tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, on 22 May). The planetary configuration in the season chart had as many indications of severe weather as is possible: Sun exactly conjunct Uranus at zero degrees Aries (as well as zero degrees declination)—part of a five-body cluster that also included Mars (on the western horizon), Jupiter and Mercury, indicating extreme winds—a Full Moon conjunct Saturn (general severity), and Venus with Neptune (augmented moisture conditions).

AR-Ing 2011-Joplin

The relevant Mercury ingress chart (entrance into Aries on 9 March) has a classic indication of turbulence: Mercury almost precisely conjunct Uranus, the latter late in the last degree of Pisces. And at that moment at Tuscaloosa, Alabama—the most severely affected place on “tornado record day”—Sun and Mars were at the upper meridian: more potency.

Mercury Aries 2011

The F4 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa was a particularly long-lived one: in contact with the ground from 4:43 to 6:14 p.m. CDT. And it caused 65 fatalities, 1500 injuries and extensive property damage. But the storm that produced it was most unusual: a supercell thunderstorm that began in Mississippi at 2:54 p.m. CDT and persisted until 10:18 p.m. CDT over North Carolina; it traveled approximately 380 miles, producing several strong to violent tornadoes along the way.

The configuration of the preceding lunation—the fourth quarter of 24 April—doesn’t appear particularly dire: The Venus-Uranus conjunction (and parallel of declination) near the lower meridian is more indicative of “cold, drizzling rain” (George J. McCormack, A Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting). My understanding, however, is that the combination can represent an abruptly shifting weather regime.

The chart for the time when the tornado struck Tuscaloosa, however, is extremely potent: The very unusual and close cluster Uranus / Venus / Mercury / Mars / Jupiter appears on the western horizon, opposite Saturn, with Pluto on the lower meridian. This is a planetary picture of devastation.

Tuscaloosa AL tornado 2011

Indications preceding the Joplin tornado were definitely dire. The Mercury ingress into Taurus on 15 May had Jupiter, Venus and Mars also with Mercury—all within an eight-degree arc—on the western horizon, opposite the Moon. And the Full Moon on the 17th came with additional caution: Sun rose as Moon set.

Merc TA-2011_FM-May-2011

The Joplin tornado was a monster: nearly one mile wide during its path through a densely populated area. That is what made it so deadly, resulting in 158 deaths and over 1,100 injuries—the deadliest tornado since 1947 How did the actual event connect with previous charts, you ask?

The lower meridian for the time of its most devastating moment—5.14 p.m.—was four degrees Aquarius (with the Moon close by at eleven degrees), which was one degree from the upper meridian in the Full Moon chart. Translation: potential manifestation grounded. Additionally, Jupiter was on the western horizon, with Venus, Mars and Mercury about to set.

Joplin Tornado 2011

There were reports of 56 tornados that day, from northeastern Oklahoma to northern Wisconsin. One of them passed within two miles of my house, as I sheltered in the basement. Not particularly noteworthy for its intensity—high-end F1 to F2 (winds between 100 and 125 miles per hour)—it still left a lasting mark on the poorest section of Minneapolis. With hundreds of mature trees downed and roof and structural damage to hundreds of houses, the storm’s swath remains obvious. Many repairable rental houses were torn down—their absentee owners had them minimally insured—leaving even more gaps in an urban fabric already shredded. Many residents who remain have organized to pressure the City to have many vacant lots declared available for long-term use as community gardens.

The same Full Moon chart, cast for Minneapolis, has three degrees Gemini on the western horizon. The Sun at the time of the tornado was at two degrees Gemini.

What about the current season, rather quiet so far? There is cause for concern: A major eruption of atmospheric turbulence appears likely in the first week of June, following the conclusion of the Mars retrograde period (violent outbreaks reduced in size and scope) on 19 May, and as Mercury approaches its own retrograde station (7 June).

The first quarter Moon (5 June) shows explosive energies on the verge of release in storms of various types, in various human and natural venues.

1Q June 2014

The much-ballyhooed configuration of Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto appears on the horizon and meridian in the midsection of the North American continent—awaiting, probably, only the Moon’s arrival at Mars’ place on the seventh. The Mississippi River valley appears particularly vulnerable.

Venus’ conjunction with the place of the solar eclipse of 28-29 April indicates an extra measure of moisture—and economic, especially agricultural, impact—in the mix.

Something tells me insurance won’t be covering much of . . .  whatever happens.





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