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The Last Time 17/02/2017

Posted by zoidion in History, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Only in the shady places do any remnants of December’s snows persist, as the air temperature reached sixty degrees.

As I walked about my errand-route, wearing a cap for shade rather than a hat for warmth, I found myself breaking into a sweat: I was wearing one too many layers under my light jacket. 

The physical sensation is accompanied by a peculiar mental one, since the solar arc remains rather low, and daylight is still fairly short. Hard to believe is that this day is only two months since the winter solstice.

In the back yard, several whorls of mullein look as if they are about to don their furry green coats and begin photosynthesis for their second (seed-producing) season. Birds are more active and noisy, chattering and fussing as they perch, hidden, within cedar hedges.

New high-temperature records for the date have been set across southern Minnesota, and the techno-weather forecasters say that more will follow over the next several days.

How rare is this? Well, this is only the fifth time that temperatures have reached sixty degrees here in February, going back to 1873.

The last time there was an extended warm spell here in February, the year was 1981, when six consecutive days registered temperatures of fifty or higher. That period began in the week that included the Full Moon, and as Sol crossed the horizon of the season chart: the axis that relates to latitude.

caping1980_1qfeb1981

Notice that in the outer ring (the first quarter Moon chart) Sol is with the upper meridian symbol (the circle with vertical line). That is a signal for a significant shift in temperature, especially as Luna approached opposition: Indeed, the first record-setting day that year was 16 February, as Luna moved into warm/dry Leo, the zoidion opposite Sol in Aquarius.

Also, Mars — a reliable indicator of warmer and drier conditions — had also recently crossed the horizon.

Not only was the upper meridian for the lunation in the place of the ascendant (shown as the circle with horizontal line) in the season chart, but there was another reversal: the horizon for the lunation opposite the upper meridian for the season. Hence a reversal of seasonal expectations.

And now? The Full Moon chart (the outer ring below) has a similar reversal in relation to the season chart: its upper meridian opposite the season’s ascendant, and the ascendant conjunct the season’s upper meridian.

caping2016_fmfeb2017

This time the warmth has arrived as Luna arrives at the ascendant of the season chart, and as Mars crosses the midpoint between lower meridian and horizon.

Watch for even greater temperature anomalies as Mars closes the distance from Uranus, and opposes Jupiter, in the days around the solar eclipse on 26 February. And watch for greater outbursts in the heating-up political realm as well. (Brazil is a particular hotspot in this period.)

-<zoidion>-

Winter’s Wiles 14/10/2016

Posted by zoidion in forecast, fruit, herbalism, homesteading, urban agriculture, Weather.
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oldhwy61

[Old Highway 61, Red Wing, Minnesota]

And he said yes I think it can be easily done
Just take everything down to Highway 61
– Bob Dylan, “Highway 61 Revisited,” 1965

Twin Cities ephemera: The cycle of the yard landscape continues, gradually becoming bare. With some help. The ferns, long since dried up and turned brown, are now a shadow of their spring lushness. In their midst, the three ironwood saplings that I transplanted in early spring, now show that they have taken root.

The paved path through the backyard is passable again, without goose-stepping — especially since harvesting the spaghetti and  Amish pie squash: fifty-two in all. Too much for home use, many have gone to a local food shelf. The volunteer hybrid butternut squash — with a mottled dull-orange-and-green skin in the familiar bulbous shape — that took over one of the compost bins yielded fifteen.

Another obstacle is now temporarily tamed: the great leaves and sagging stems of the two clumps of elecampane, started from seed last year. I dug up one clump, washed and dried the roots, and started another tincture.

The view toward the alley is slowly returning, as the elderberry bushes drop their leaves, and especially since I clipped all of this year’s growth of the hops vines back to the ground; it’s amazing how much shade the hops give, as they grow as much as twenty feet in this northern climate. I hadn’t used any of the hops before, but after offering their aromatic strobiles — that’s what their papery scaly globes are called: neat word, eh? — via a community gardening listserv and having one young man come to harvest a bit, I was properly motivated to begin brewing. My first one-gallon batch, using the “apple crisp ale” recipe in the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book, is ready for bottling today.

Oh, and did I mention the pear harvest? Back in August, when I found one of the three fruits from one of the two trees on the ground, I picked the others but found them juicy but mealy. Week after further week went by as I monitored the one fruit on the other tree, said fruit being dark brown, rough-skinned, fissured — and hard. At last I figured it was high time to pluck it. Then it sat on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. When I finally braved learning the inner truth of it, I discovered it to be both juicy and tasty. Juicy fruit from both trees I expected: Thus far, 2016 has been the wettest year on record for most places in the upper Mississippi River region. (No surprise there, thanks to astrometeorology.) But tasty, from one at least, has been a relief. I’ve been talking to both trees about greater production of quality fruit next year. For pear cider?

What are the prospects for winter, you wonder? Well, in several crucial respects, the indications are similar to those for the summer just past.

That’s because the meridian and horizon in the winter solstice (Capricorn solar ingress) 2016 chart are nearly identical to those in the summer solstice (Cancer solar ingress) 2016 chart — and those for the spring equinox (Aries solar ingress) chart. Why is that? I don’t know, but it’s typical.

(A couple of years ago — a couple of years into my study of astrometeorology — I put together a table of such information, starting with the year 2000. I found that with great consistency, the zoidia — Greek for zodiacal signs, plural — on the meridian and horizon are the same for all the ingresses in a given year, with the exception of the Libra ingress, when the previous zoidion appears on each.)

Thus, once again for the coming winter, the water zoidion Pisces appears on the lower meridian of the chart cast for this location, and the water zoidion Scorpio appears on the ascendant (eastern horizon). In addition, Neptune — another indicator for wetness, from fogs to floods — is in Pisces and close to the lower meridian.

cap-ing_2016
[The chart is rendered with Placidus houses, rather than with whole-sign houses generally used on this site, in order to make meridian and horizon more readily apparent.]

This time, Mars is also in Pisces, near the meridian, making for a more interesting — probably in the Chinese sense — mix of phenomena. George J. McCormack, in his 1947 classic Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting, wrote:

“The Mars-Neptune configurations . . . are more extreme [than Venus-Mars combinations] and productive of freak changes. . . . Temperatures rise, peculiar calms ensue and are followed by squally storms of short duration . . . Barometric pressure falls rapidly.”

Since in the season chart Mars is approaching Neptune, and eight degrees away, such phenomena will be more prevalent during the period from the solstice through the first days of January. Not a good time for travel in the midsection of the continent. Freezing rain and temperatures hovering near the freezing point will be more problematic than usual: Snow and cold we can deal with, but ice is treacherous.

The general forecast: a wet, chilly, but not particularly cold winter — not in the same category as the most recent “real, old-fashioned” winter: 2013-14. (Neptune was exactly conjunct the ascendant in the chart for that season.)

The wettest portion of the winter will match the period when Venus moves through Pisces: early January through early February.

Another notable interesting period: late February – early March 2017, around the time of the New Moon (actually, an annular solar eclipse) on 26 February. An unseasonable warmup is likely to result, in northern regions, in flooding, while in the south, unusual atmospheric turbulence challenges business as usual.

Times to be risk-savvy.

-<zoidion>-

[ Currently reading: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water (sequel to A Time of Gifts), recounting his journey, mostly on foot, across Europe in 1934. ]

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