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Drought to Deluge to . . . 17/01/2017

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Event, forecast, Long Emergency, permaculture, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s another bump time around here, as the temperature drifts up to the freezing mark and beyond. Through several days the sky was brilliantly clear, with a wonderful planetary show: Venus quite bright and high in the west after sundown, with Mars much fainter and a little further ahead (from Sol). (Venus needs until early October to catch up, after a retrograde dance early March to mid-April.)

Before sunup, Jupiter is at zenith, directly above the bright star Spica, with Saturn low in the east. (I admit I haven’t spotted Saturn yet, more than thirty degrees from Sol.)

That — up! — is where most of the outdoor majesty is to be found just now in these parts. Though there are corridors and spots where real Earth breaks through. 

Reading — very slowly and episodically — Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota helps me recall and cultivate a fuller sense of the surrounding territory.

One day I recall from the past year involved a quick trip to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, close by the lake called Mille Lacs, where the large-scale shallow fishing waters and rich rice marshes along adjacent rivers provided much sustenance. Long-story short, the sense came that this was a place of much activity in a very large and sparsely populated region, which included the (typically) stupidly named Rum (instead of Spirit) River pathway to the Mississippi. A place of importance.

Just being there, I felt . . . something — something about energy flows, at least across the surface of the Earth.

It puts yesterday into perspective: the circuit of a few miles to visit the frozen leviathan known as Mississippi. As the first wispy clouds began to ride out of the south, Luna went about sinking in the west. In Islands of Peace Park, in Fridley, along the route of the onetime Red River oxcart travel — not so very long ago: less than two hundred years — the ragged icy surface of the Great River covered the ceaseless surge from upstream. (I admit I know little of the character of “management” of the River, and how the dams in the realm of ice restrict or enhance the flow.)

In the long-underwear chill, there were also marvels to behold in the snow-covered floodplain: large fungi on dead trees, the texture and color of ice in ponds that melted to slush until the day after Christmas, the large rough tipi.

But few, I suppose, are inclined to linger much: Might as well move on. Which I did, mostly on the smooth ice nearest the shore. I stopped a number of times, but briefly. Enough to press one knee into the snow to get a photograph or three.

img_7453

Islands of Peace: Well, I’d keep that singular, since one of them is in the middle of the Mississippi and would require a heroic stroke as swimmer or paddler, or admittedly, an outboard motor. In a warmer season.

Definitely peaceful, however — except for the distant downstream roar of traffic on the multi-lane across the flow.

As many climatologists have been pointing out for some time, climate disruption includes such phenomena as rapid shifts between extremes, such as the very recent flip from extreme drought to flooding and sudden massive snowpacks in California and Nevada. This was the obvious big weather-related story of Full Moon week.

A story at Salon.com provided a good short summary.

“Just during the storm that hit Jan. 7 to 10, there were 52 reports of extreme precipitation (meaning more than eight inches of rain in a three-day period), with several measuring twice that. Strawberry Valley, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas, got an amazing 20.51 inches of rain during that storm — more than Los Angeles typically gets in an entire year . . . The percentage of the state that is defined as “drought-free” has almost doubled overnight, from about 18 percent to 34.5 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.”

The season chart for the region, based on the December solstice, indicates overall a few more incidents of rainfall during this normally rainy season there: this thanks to Venus near the lower meridian. Even though Venus was in dry, cold Aquarius.

But the classic indications for a period of over-the-top precipitation show up in the Full Moon calculation (the approximate midpoint for the series of storms in that atmospheric river): Venus and Neptune at the lower meridian. At the same time, Mars (reliably a warming if not also drying influence) had reached one of the midpoints between meridian and horizon — there are four, not shown on the graphic, located at nineteen degrees of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius. (Warming was a crucial factor in determining the elevations above which precipitation fell and remained as snow.) In addition, Saturn at one of those midpoints in the season chart was forewarning of severe storms to come.

cp-ing-2016_fm-jan-2017

These storms, however, with all their attendant destruction and adaptation problems, bring only partial and temporary relief to the exceptional drought. Planetary indications for spring 2017 are emphatically in the direction of renewed drying: The vernal equinox chart puts Mars exactly on the lower meridian at Fresno in the crucial Central Valley. Indeed, the chart overall is weighted toward the triplicity of Fire, and the significance is obvious.

The past few years have given many foretastes of what is to come in spades (or mine-size haulers) during the heat of the summer and beyond. Be ready for wicked heat and drought, punctuated with wildfires and industrial mismanagement on a scale and with an intensity previously unseen.

Count on it: Summer 2017 centers on the period of Sol and Mars in their very hottest combination (in the zoidion Leo, where Sol is lord), especially in August, building up with great force and drama, and releasing following the solar eclipse on 21 August.

It will be yet another time for a mass shedding of denial: a veritable incineration of resistance to recognition of human-forced warming. It will be quite revelatory to witness  who’s willing to discard the blinders, and who’s not.

Besides fires and the misadventures of products of industry, massive crop losses appear very likely. This eclipse path will cut across the U.S. agri-biz “breadbasket” — It won’t be pretty. In part, it will be demonstrative of the degree to which some agriculturists have been moving away from industrial ag orthodoxy. There are many thoughtful and observant experiments afoot in the realm combining permaculture principles and agroforestry, as well as plain old intelligent conservation measures. How they come through the Fires of August will likely be most instructive.

But there’s no getting around it: A massive crisis essentially across the path of the eclipse must be expected, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Truly responding to it will test and redefine the interests of the Trumpencers especially: the ones who are rising up against the same old same old.

Can Trump actually at his ripe immature age grow? All year he’s being pressured by circumstances to develop some gravitas: Do it or die. The one who’s approached the presidency as a lark, another apparent stage for ego-based displays and appeals to the “lesser angels,” is in the process of being constrained: Saturn’s lengthy visitation. Is the Donald willing to act as more than a defiant, tantrum-prone clown figure, to reach the realization that greatness is as greatness does?

No doubt it will be quite a show. But hey, America loves emotional dramas, right?

-<zoidion>-

Once again I must emphasize: Every region needs researchers / observers well versed in astro-weather techniques, working to identify, well in advance, periods of heat and drought, storm and inundation — and informing those willing to listen, and heed. The task doesn’t require computers, satellites and the Internet. It can — and eventually will — be done with ephemerides, tables of diurnal planetary motion, and tables of houses.
Just as in olden times.
It will even be fun. And it will be a service toward the survival and renewal of our respective communities.

Indexing Weather 11/01/2017

Posted by zoidion in forecast, History, Photography, Weather.
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2 comments

fullmooneye

Twin Cities ephemera: The past several days have brought several Alberta clippers — several-hour-long snowfalls riding the winds out of Alberta —totaling about eight inches of snow. Fairly typical for January in these parts. Definitely a nuisance and a danger for commuting.

As the weather pattern passes and the sky clears, the temperature will likely drop below zero again: typical, in my experience, when there’s a full moon in Cancer.

At least these conditions are fairly normal. Unlike heavy rain in the Sierra Nevadas and heavy snow and severe cold in southern Europe.

As you may be aware, weather geeks are continually coming up with new terms for timeless phenomena. (The practice, presumably, helps justify funding and continued employment.)

Since this meteorological winter — which started at the beginning of December — is nearly at its halfway point, it’s time for the geeks to refer to the Weather Misery Index, applicable to either winter or summer.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the winter WMI is reckoned thus: “The WMI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder. If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points. The duration of a winter is quantified using the number of days the snow depth is 12 inches or greater.”

As of January 10, 2017 the WMI for the 2016-17 winter is at 41 points: 19 points for cold, 22 points for snow. This is enough for this winter to be in the “mild” category. Fourteen more points are needed for this winter to be categorized as “moderate.” The WMI for the winter of 2015-16 finished with 47 points, enough for 2014-15 to be categorized as a “mild” winter. The WMI points for the 2015-2016 winter were 18 for cold and 29 snow: 46 points. The winter of 2016-17 should easily pass last winter in points. The WMI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the “severe winter” category.  This was the ninth most severe winter on record based on WMI points. The lowest WMI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 WMI points. Note, this could also be called the “Winter Fun Index” depending on your perspective!

I have some vivid memories of that winter of 2013-14. Some are white-knuckle: driving round-trip solo to Detroit to help a friend in an emergency, negotiating snowstorms both ways. Some more peaceful and contemplative: walking, morning and evening, from late January to early March, a labyrinth I stamped out in the deep backyard snow.

That winter, in my experience, deservedly ranks high, obviously for a lot of snow. But that winter of a century ago: I don’t regret missing that.

According to available records, here in the Twin Cities there was at least six inches of snow on the ground from 24 December 1916 to 24 March 1917 — uh, that’s three full months — with a peak of thirty-one inches on 16 March. (It sure took a while for that higher sun angle to eat away at the snowpack.) Seventy-four inches of snow fell altogether: double the local average.

The temperature side of the index was also nasty: fourteen minimum temperatures below zero in December, fifteen in January, nineteen in February, and seven minima of twenty below or lower.

Okay, what are the astro-meteorological indications?

The main ones pop right out: Luna and Venus in the crucial lower meridian position at the time of the Capricorn solar ingress.

cp-ing_1916

Those are reliable indicators of abundant moisture, especially when both are in a zoidion (aka “sign”) of the watery triplicity, in this case Scorpio. This is a special case, though: Both Luna and Venus are “problematic” (in the system of planetary “dignities”) in that zoidion noted for extreme conditions and situations, and in relation to winter temperature, definitely cold.

Eclipses also marked the first month of the season: a partial solar eclipse on 24 December, a total lunar eclipse on 8 January, and a second partial solar eclipse on 23 January. That’s a bit of information to add to the bucket, in view of a pattern of mild weather into early December, later than usual (back then).

Also, testing the full-moon-in-Cancer observation: The full moon / lunar eclipse was followed, two days later, by the start of a week of below-zero weather.

Notably, the most bitter weather came in the first week of February, following the first-quarter-moon, at which time the meridian and horizon matched those in the season chart.

cp-ing-1916_1q-jan-1917

For folks around here that year, as temperatures at last reached the forties, the spring equinox just may have been celebrated with dancing in the streets.

-<zoidion>-

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