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Not Normal 16/01/2016

Posted by zoidion in Event, Long Emergency, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: After an alarmingly mild December, January is being the way January is supposed to be. With day after December day in the 40s and nights above freezing, some people were reporting plants showing signs of waking up at least three months too soon: raspberry canes, for example, showing swelling leaf buds.

Around here, we missed out on the drama and destruction that hit the mid-Mississippi valley and southern plains just after the solstice. At the solstice moment, light snow began sifting down, and there’s been a white layer on the ground since.

A week ago, the season’s first blast of truly cold air came in, and now the second has arrived. Not fun to contend with, but a somewhat reassuring semblance of climatic normalcy. But not really.

Because I can’t get reports from elsewhere out of my mind.

Late December tornadoes in Texas. Rain amid the months-long darkness at the North Pole.  And now a January hurricane aiming toward Greenland.

True, it’s not the first time a hurricane has formed in January off the coast of Africa. But it’s the first time since 1938 — and “the second strongest storm to hit the Atlantic basin at any time during January since record-keeping began in 1771,” while another weird storm churned in the Pacific. 

Plus, the Atlantic storm — Alex — formed unusually far north of the equator: about latitude twenty five degrees. As “Robertscribbler” put it: “Alex appears to have done just about everything backwards.”

With the polar ice pack disintegrating year by year, it seems that the largest remaining northern area of ice — Greenland — is attracting the tropical heat. 

No, normal is gone.

Just have a look at this graph showing global average temperatures for December, going back to 1890. Notice the sharp rise at the now end of the graph. Not good.

dec-1890-2015-global-temp

So, how are these weather events reflected in the cosmic pattern? Well, the great storms and the mid-Mississippi floods were unleashed in the week following the Full Moon. The first wintry blast arrived in time with the New Moon on 9 January, and the second with the First Quarter Moon.

Lest you get the wrong idea, lunations by themselves are not reliable indicators of weather shifts. But the New Moon was conjunct the place of Mercury in the season chart — Mercury being the symbol for wind. That was the key. So a shift in the wind pattern was strongly indicated.

Plus, the New Moon and season-chart Mercury were in Capricorn, where cold Saturn is lord. And the indicators were all in the northern area of the season chart.

And now in the days — and nights: brrr — around the First Quarter, Mercury, in apparent retrograde motion since 5 January, is crossing the place of Mercury in the season chart.

CapIng2015_NM-Jan-2016.2

Various Mercury-symbolized phenomena and activities are apt to get scrambled during period when Mercury is retrograde and until Mercury exits the zodiacal zone of retrogradation. And that will last until 14 February. (Mercury began the period of retrogradation at one degree of break-the-rules Aquarius.)

So no wonder.

But there’s one more Mercury factor to note: In the season chart, Mercury is “out of bounds”: farther south than the Sun. Mercury’s domain is beyond what is normal, average, to be expected.

And where is Mercury’s weather-power zone this season? Well, this astromap shows the dashed-yellow Mercury-on-the-lower-meridian line running south-north through the western Atlantic Ocean, past the eastern tip of Canada’s province of Newfoundland and toward the western coast of Greenland.

CapIng2015_astromap-Merc.2

With a rogue winter hurricane — i.e., a heat discharger — on the loose, just one phrase comes to mind: “Turn to face the strange changes.”

Well said, Mr. Bowie.

-<zoidion>-

Cricket Crescendo 04/09/2015

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, permaculture, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: I don’t think it’s that my ears are suddenly more sensitive, and I don’t think it’s because the weather has turned warmer and more humid: I do think the crickets are making more noise these late-season nights. I think they sense that their time is running short: The average date of first frost is 8 October.
Along with notably shortening days (now two-and-a-half hours shorter than on the summer solstice), other changes are readily observable. The ferns, among the first plants to show life with their fiddle-heads, have turned almost completely brown, while most of the jack-in-the-pulpit leaves have turned yellow, their seed-clusters a brilliant red.
jack-pulpit0001The large clump of spiderwort out front, under the river birch, has done its annual flop.
Among the human-food plants, I note the extent of new growth on the two hazelnut bushes–respectable–and begin to anticipate next season’s year-three eruption; I’m quite fond of their fine-toothed, heart-shaped leaves.
I marvel once again at the excessive growth on the cherry tree: I’ll have to prune it again, to remove the downward-growing branches and some of the general tangle. How little remained after my pruning job last March.
Much of the yard was intolerably overgrown by July, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time and energy in the past month cutting back. It was hard to get up the steps to the deck, between the two elderberry bushes, so as soon as I’d harvested most of the berries I cut them back substantially. I’d already decided to take out one of them this fall–the one that’s been morning-shading an area that I’ve been working on bringing into production–and I’m glad that now a neighbor has expressed interest in adopting it.
I also dug out a clump of milkweed plants: There are plenty of other milkweeds nearby on which the monarch can feed and reproduce, and I’d found no chrysalis attached to any of “my” milkweed. I had pulled out several twisted plants that made it a challenge to walk the old concrete path through the backyard, and was impressed by how quickly new milkweed plants popped up to replace them. And so, when digging time came, there was an extensive horizontal root system just a couple of inches below the surface. That was a revelation. I figure that can be a spot to which to move the perennial vegetable Good King Henry that has done well enough the past two seasons, even though shaded by two black currant bushes. (I read, though, that GKH is difficult to re-establish after transplanting; I’d best choose the timing carefully: a waning Moon–for healthy roots–preferably in Taurus (as on 30 September and 1 October, or Moonday 5 October, with Moon waning in Moon-ruled Cancer.)
Also, there’s a New England aster to move: It’s so tall and wide that it’s throwing too much shade on some of the veggies.
Oh, in animal news, the–hopefully the, rather than a–woodchuck fell for the lure of peanut butter last week. This time, s/he got a second chance in other territory a couple of miles away. But on the journey I reflected on the absurdity and waste of fossil fuel involved in delivering the critter there.
And, at long last, I got a rocket stove–essentially a miniature chimney, requiring far less wood than an open fire–set up in the backyard. The idea is to have an auxiliary cooking arrangement, a non-fossil-fuel option, to use during the summer, to put less heat into the house. But I failed in my first several attempts to get a flame going in the small fire chamber, even using matches. That was humbling, especially when recollecting my onetime ability to generate fire with a bow and drill.
Overall, there’s markedly less to do in the garden now than in the spring, and that’s a welcome shift, bringing the luxury of more time and energy for other projects, and indulgences.
One of the latter is Nick Dagan Best’s “I Love Astrology” podcast: as might be expected of him, a tautly-paced romp. His episode three on censorship of astrologers touches on situations involving Evangeline Adams in the U.S., Alan Leo in the U.K, and Karl Ernst Krafft and Elsbeth Ebertin in Germany, among others. For folks with an interest in the history of astrology, it’s definitely worth a listen.
And one of these mornings–whenever we here are spared the smoke haze from the burning of the West–I’m sure I’ll see Venus and Mars rising before the Sun. (Both, you may recall, were visible in the evening sky after sunset during the past winter, spring and early summer.)

But what about El Nino, the subject of so much weather buzz of late, and whether or not rainstorms will be able to break through the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?
Well, El Nino, as most weather watchers know by now, is a disruption–particularly evident through fall and winter months in Earth’s northern hemisphere–of usual weather patterns that is related to an unusual warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific ocean. (The most recent very strong El Nino–in 1997-98–brought very heavy rains to California: more than twice the average at San Francisco, and the most since 1862, when vast areas of northern California flooded.)
The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is in the way of such rains reaching parched lands. The RRR is a persistent region of atmospheric high pressure that has been “in place” off the Pacific coasts of the U.S. and Canada since December 2012. (Hmmm . . . — What did those astronomically-minded Mayans have to say about climate?) The RRR, related to a large region of high oceanic water temperatures off the West Coast of North America, has been effectively blocking the usual storm systems from coming onshore, resulting in severe and exceptional drought and conditions conducive to the exceptional 2015 summer season of wildfires in the American and Canadian West.
Many people are hoping, praying, assuming that the current extremely warm waters of the eastern Pacific will provide relief from the extreme drought. Um, it might, and it might not. On the one hand, El Nino is no guarantee of exceptional rains along the West Coast, or a mild and rather snow-free winter here in the upper Mississippi valley.
On the other, a fall and winter marked by perhaps record-breaking rains could go a long way toward filling those many empty and nearly-empty reservoirs, and perhaps arresting the collapse of California’s Big Ag corridor. But on still another, those downpours, hitting slopes dotted with drought-dead trees or cleared by wildfires, would just as likely cause widespread mudslides and floods.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
It’s a time of one peculiar and worrisome phenomenon after another–craters, big ones (likely caused by methane eruptions), appearing in Siberia; vast regions burned over, others blanketed with a smoky haze; toxic red blooms of bacteria generating oceanic dead zones; purple waves washing Oregon’s shores; Caribbean beaches choked with seaweed blooms; a “real and imminent” thaw of Earth’s permafrost zone; signs of a slowdown of the Gulf Stream. And have I mentioned Greenland and Antarctica?

But the question of the moment: Will an El Nino deliver rains in quantity to the Pacific coast of North America?
Related to that, a most unusual succession of Pacific typhoons has formed lately, most moving typically west. But one did something strange: After brushing Japan, it kept going northeast, punching through the Bering Strait and delivering a jolt of heat to the Arctic Ocean–similar to what the “weather bomb” of Typhoon Nuri did in 2014, “kickstarting” winter.
And in the past few days, the eastern Pacific has sported a most unusual collection of four typhoons at once.
earth.nullschool.04092015Source: Earth.nullschool.net — wind pattern on 4 September 2015

Such peculiarities reflect the rare Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune configuration that is currently shaping up. And note that the typhoon lineup, more pronounced a few days ago, formed in the days following the Full Moon during which Sun was conjunct Jupiter and Moon was conjunct Neptune. This likely heralds a shift in the prevailing pattern.
However, the typhoons don’t often head north before reaching Asian shores, but one storm system (not a typhoon) in mid-May 2015 did break through the RRR and deliver unusual flooding rains to San Diego. (The relevant lunation chart showed water sign Cancer on the crucial lower meridian, along with Venus–also signifying moisture–in Cancer.)
That’s the sort of thing needed to break through the RRR, and begin to break the drought.
And there’s an indication of a coming shift: the movement of Mercury, symbol of wind. Mercury crossed the zero-degrees-Libra point–the Sun’s place on the northern autumn equinox (23 September)–on 27 August. But on the equinox Mercury will be in apparent retrograde motion (beginning 17 September), until 9 October: when it will sit in the first degree of Libra. That will in all likelihood be when the pattern will start to alter.
That doesn’t mean rain will begin falling that day on the most parched areas. After all, the Sun in astro-meteorology represents dry and warm conditions. Of course.
But significantly, in the equinox astro-map, the Sun-on-the-lower-meridian line runs off the the U.S. West Coast, and through Vancouver Island and western British Columbia. The Sun-Mercury combination suggests movement or dissipation of the notorious Ridge.

Lib-ing-2015Sun line: dashed red. Mercury line: dashed yellow.

How much of a shift is a subject for further investigation. Stay tuned.

-<zoidion>-

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