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Winter’s Arrival 02/12/2016

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The calendar says December is here: the first month of meteorological winter, and the second snowiest on average.  And despite the monotony of gray day after gray day, I know a change is a-coming: a change into real winter. 

The first two snows were swept away last week in one day that began strangely warm and thundery, shifted to hail, then sleet, then rain: well over an inch of precipitation. It was enough to set annual precipitation records at a number of locations.

So I figured I’d better not wait any longer to dig up the carrots, leaving only the leeks for still later harvest.

img_0380

They join the potatoes, groundnuts, sunchokes, onions, three kinds of squash in storage. Maybe one of these days I’ll see what I can cook up, using as many of the grown-at-home foods as possible.  

There are plenty of indications that the week of the first quarter Moon (7 December) marks the period of a marked weather shift of the season — and the techno-meteorologists agree —  toward much colder temperatures and a significant precipitation event.

First, the first-quarter Sun-Moon pattern: Sun conjunct Saturn (colder) and Moon conjunct Neptune (wetter, perhaps much wetter).

1q-dec2016

On 2nd December, Sun reaches the place of Saturn in the season chart: a reliable indicator of an Arctic air mass beginning to break out of its usual bounds for the time of year. But Sun and Saturn actually reach conjunction on 10 December: That date and the several following are when frigid air plunges deep into the North American continent.

Another indication is the near-equivalence of the angles (meridian and horizon) between the first-quarter chart and the chart for the season.

The complication for first-quarter-Moon week comes from the movement of Jupiter since the equinox: from three degrees of Libra to eighteen. (Jupiter is primarily a warmer-and-drier-air-mass indicator.) For the Twin Cities, the horizon at first-quarter is twenty-two degrees of Libra-Aries, but places where the horizon is eighteen — well, those places may be along the crucial boundary between above-freezing and below-freezing temperature zones. (Kris Brandt Riske asserted exactly that in the very last paragraph of her book Astrometeorology: Planetary Power in Weather Forecasting, 1997.)

But hold on . . . At this longitude, one would have to go north another fifteen degrees of latitude — past Churchill, Manitoba, where the polar bears, if they’re still alive, roam the streets in search of food — to get to where Jupiter would be on the horizon. Somehow, I don’t think the warm air will reach that far north, or even close, given the time of year and other indications for colder conditions.

And the Moon-Neptune factor? They aren’t near the horizon, and thus not showing a major dump of snow for the midsection of the continent — or the coasts, for that matter.

On the 9th and 10th, the Moon-Uranus-horizon factor kicks in, signaling an Arctic blast.

So . . . quite a bit colder, some snow: enough to establish a broad blanket to keep temperatures cold for a good while. But probably nothing meriting a name for a storm. A mid-level event, more than a nuisance but not crippling.

Plowable, that’s it.

-<zoidion>-

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Comments»

1. Mary Louise Turner - 06/12/2016

Sounds like winter is here at last! Need a carrot soup recipe? Let me know. There is a snow/weather contest in our area, and I thought of you. It’s: what is the first day Springfield/Champaign Illinois gets 3″ of snow? If your interested to try for fun, I’ll try to get more details. I think there’s a prize too. I thought this contest was right up your alley! As always, thanks for sharing!
Mary Louise 🙂

zoidion - 07/12/2016

Maybe someone a bit more knowledgeable could forecast that, but anticipating snow for an in-between zone such as yours in this transitional period seems quite tricky. It’s a lot easier to forecast precipitation in general — light or heavier. But when will atmosphere and ground be cold enough . . . ? (The techno-weather ten-day snowfall outlook through the 16th still looks iffy for your area.) Would you hazard a guess?


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