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Flash Drought 09/06/2017

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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orange-fungus_17052017

Twin Cities ephemera: The clouds or rain were nearly ever-present through the month of May: perfect conditions for the emergence of strange and unusual life forms, such as the fungus on a juniper tree, shown above. 

The wettest period accounted for a full five inches of rain falling on my backyard, between the fifteenth and twentieth of the month: the time of the fungi.

One of those mornings, a bit of movement caught my eye: a goldfinch (I think) swooping and alighting on one of my rings of chickenwire in the garden. I stood mesmerized for minutes as it pecked again and again at . . .  something. When it flew off, I went to the spot: Apparently, it had been picking individual freshly-formed seeds off a dandelion.

Given all that moisture, the vegetative growth erupted even more than usual, the hops plants taking the prize, as usual. The most vital one has sent many shoots seven feet up the vertical strings, and  now racing each other across the horizontal wires above the deck: the leading ones about eight feet out.

Through it all, I kept watch on the soil thermometer, awaiting a minimum sixty-five degree reading before transplanting young pepper and tomato plants. (Tomatoes in particular are notorious for disliking “cold feet” — and I don’t blame them.) The temperature had reached that mark by the end of a sunny spell at the end of April, before dropping back to the fifties under all that rain, through many gloomy and chilly days and nights.

There was no surprise for me in reading that the month’s average temperature had broken a twenty-month string of above-average temperature.

The reign of rain ended fairly abruptly, as expected, with the New Moon of 25 May at five degrees of Gemini: at the lower meridian of the season chart. Nearly every day since been entirely sunny and significantly warmer — many quite pleasant, with three days reaching ninety degrees thrown in. (Tomorrow, according to the techno-weather folks, should be a humdinger of heat and humidity, before storms start erupting.)

AR-ing_NM-Gem2017

The New Moon — Luna engulfed in Sol’s warming and drying radiance — marked a dramatic shift in the season’s weather. One added feature — Mars at the upper meridian at the local New Moon moment — signaled: more heat.

The warming and drying were welcome, but now the lengthening list of zeros in the precipitation reports are cause for concern.

Following today’s Full Moon, Luna moves past Saturn, signaling — as a month ago — a stormy spell. But the overall pattern of dryness is likely to hold through the summer.

As observed here previously, the horizon and meridian are essentially the same — every year — for the Aries (spring) and Cancer (summer) ingresses.

To spell it out: The recent New Moon (Sol dominant) at the lower meridian of both spring and summer charts is a strong indication that increasingly dry conditions will prevail. (A region of moderate to severe drought is already established in the Dakotas — centered approximately on the Standing Rock reservation, where eight months ago thousands were gathered to protect the precious waters of life — and expanding. See the U.S. Drought Monitor.)

How silly now are the echoes of those local meteorologists who declared, in mid-May, that the region was practically “guaranteed” another wet growing season. Oh really? — I thought.

-<zoidion>-

[ Recent reading: Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha, 2010; A History of the Future, James Howard Kunstler, 2014; Majipoor Chronicles, Robert Silverberg, 1981. Recent listening: Jean-Luc Ponty, “Enigmatic Ocean”; Emmylou Harris, “Red Dirt Girl”; David Byrne, “Rei Momo”; Neil Young, “Greatest Hits.” ]

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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.

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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.

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