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Forecast: Winter 2014-15 15/12/2014

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The excitement over potential planetary sightings was short-lived, now seeming a distant memory: nearly quenched by nine straight days and nights of cloud cover, fog, mist, drizzle or light rain. Not a single clear glimpse of Sun or Moon. A run of gloomy weather is fairly typical of December in these parts, but this has been excessive: more weather weirding.

Overcast conditions are the price of the recent mild trend that has melted off the paltry snow cover.

When the temperature reached fifty degrees on the fourteenth (milder than anticipated in the fall 2014 forecast), it was impossible to resist the urge — even in street shoes — to get out the shovel to dig out the spent stalks of kale, arugula and broccoli.

Though the thawed surface of the soil is muddy, just underneath is dry soil that bespeaks the overall accuracy of the expected precipitation for the fall season: below normal. When I returned from the ISAR conference in early October, there were 1.27 inches of water in the backyard gauge, but the rest of the month brought less than a tenth of an inch of rain; November’s snow brought 1.30 inches of melted precipitation; December so far only 0.04 inch. The U.S. Drought Monitor confirms that most of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities area, after a wet spring and summer, is now abnormally dry.

It’s not quite so obvious, but there is still beauty to be seen in the garden’s early winter garb. Despite mid-November’s cold and snow, the re-exposed leaves of hairy vetch and creeping charlie remain remarkably green. Even some of the dark browns conjure a somber charm.

Cherry leaves.

Cherry leaves.

Blue vervain stalks and seed heads.

Blue vervain stalks and seed heads.

 

Outline for the season in the upper Mississippi River basin: Winter 2014-15

An average to slightly warmer than average winter overall is indicated, along with continued below-average precipitation. Mid-January (especially), the end of January and beginning of February, and first week of March are the periods when the most significant precipitation can be expected.

The region will often be a borderland between cold Canadian and milder / moister Pacific-originating air masses, resulting in a greater-than-usual likelihood of precipitation events including significant degrees of freezing rain, and more-than-usual travel challenges from ice.

Capricorn Ingress 2014

Primary season chart indications: Earth sign Virgo on lower meridian (north) signals cold, blustery, drier than normal conditions, modified by Sun, Mercury (exactly) and Venus on western horizon, marking a season strongly influenced by warmer air masses, winds and moisture from the west. Neptune near upper meridian (south) shows heavier precipitation keeping to more southern regions. Mercury is “out-of-bounds”: in greater south declination than the Sun. Mars / Saturn midpoint is at horizon line.

Lunar Week by Lunar Week

New Moon: 21 – 27 December
Cool at first, milder trend starting 24 December, dry until 26th.

First Quarter: 28 December – 4 January
Cooler, a little snow toward end of week.

Full Moon: 5 – 12 January
Significant snow but remaining relatively mild.
[Full Moon exactly aligned with Venus in season chart]

Last Quarter: 13 – 19 January
Strange turbulence: a dangerous period: moist warmth contending with dry cold (heavy storms, possibly including tornadoes, reaching at least the mid-Mississippi Valley).
[Mars – Neptune – Saturn configuration]

New Moon: 20 – 26 January
Gradually calming, colder.

First Quarter: 27 January – 3 February
Cold with strong winds at start of week; heavy snow likely 31 January – 1 February, followed by thaw.

Full Moon: 4 – 11 February
Thaw continuing, relatively calm and pleasant.

Last Quarter: 12 – 18 February
Colder, windy, dry.

New Moon: 19 – 25 February
Mostly cold and cloudy, little precipitation.

First Quarter: 26 February – 4 March
Damp, foggy (freezing rain/drizzle likely) at start of week, then milder, pleasant, breezier.

Full Moon: 5 – 12 March
Significant precipitation (probably rain) at start of week. (Flooding likely in central, southern regions.)
[Watch for reports of increasing turbulence generally toward end of week, especially in New England, maritime Canada, eastern Caribbean, eastern China, Philippines, Indonesia: Mars – Uranus configuration.]

Last Quarter: 13 – 19 March
Increasing humidity, cool, unsettled. (Again, more notable weather to the south; overall turbulence gradually abating.)
[Mercury – Neptune configuration exact 18 March]

Be well. Stay aware.

-<zoidion>-

What I’m reading: A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization, John Perlin, 1989. One nugget thus far:

One hundred and twenty pine trees were required to prepare the six tons of charcoal needed to produce one ingot of copper, deforesting almost four acres [of Cyprus]. Underwater archaeologists found onboard a Bronze Age shipwreck two hundred ingots of copper that had been mined and smelted in Cyprus. The production of just this shipload cost the island almost 24,000 pine trees.

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