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Winter’s Arrival 02/12/2016

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Weather.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.


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).


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.




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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