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Flash Drought 09/06/2017

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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.” ]

Groundhog Days 15/08/2015

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The deerskin drum made a dull, thudding sound as I drummed in the day. And no wonder: With an orange sun rising, the thermometer showed seventy-two as I noted a heavy dew on the vegetation.

Another hot and muggy day in the offing, dawn was the time to look around at areas of wonder.

I noted, again, the lack of blossoms on the moonflower plants. Do they refrain from blooming during the dark of the Moon? I haven’t paid enough attention.

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I saw that some of the beans are climbing more than head-high on one of the pear trees: a bit of successful permaculture.

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I witnessed bumblebees stirring from sleep: Some had spent the night clinging to one of the cup plants.

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And I marveled at the massive leaves of the elecampane that I started from seed four months ago.

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Also visible: lingering evidence of depredation by the woodchuck that reappeared recently after several years’ absence from my yard. Is it a lone male? I haven’t seen any young’uns–nor do I want to. He was forced out of his preferred holes below the tower of the nearby high-voltage power line when Xcel began replacing all the towers back in April.

What a voracious lover of juicy leaves! He started on the biggest ones: broccoli and cabbage. He took off the growing ends of a couple of squash plants–maybe they weren’t juicy enough for a full meal. But he also chewed his way through half the parsley. Aarrgghhh.

He liked using the territory under the shed for one of his hangouts, where once I watched him from about six feet away, partially screened by a raspberry plant. His nose twitched aplenty, but his eyesight seemed poor. He moved mighty fast for such a low-to-the-ground critter. And he seems too clever to fall for the lure of a cage trap, especially when there’s plenty of fresh leaves available without leaving the block. In any case, he seems to have moved on . . . for now, anyway.

The Impatiens balsamina is waist-high and in full bloom, out front behind the black raspberry canes that have grown so extravagantly. They started blooming about a month ago: rather early, I thought.

It seems that a lot of veggies as well as perennials have been maturing prematurely. 

What’s up with that? Faulty recollection? Relative inexperience with gardening for food? Earth changes?

Though plenty of rain has fallen, and mostly in timely fashion, I would more likely attribute the ripening to abnormal heat. But with few exceptions, the days of this summer have been notably pleasant: cooler than average.

It’s amazing — yet not surprising, astro-meteorologically  — that the temperature has only reached 90 F thrice so far this summer. And yesterday was one. That compares with an average of about eight such days through early August.

No wonder the unofficial Twin Cities Summer Glory Index shows the summer of 2015, through 15 July, as very nearly the best ever recorded.

summer-glory-index

Sorry it hasn’t been so great out west and down south. Or in central and eastern Europe. Or in south Asia.

It’s odd, how easy it is to think of August around here as a dry month, when it’s actually the wettest: slightly wetter than June. Maybe it’s that the leaves on trees are getting to look dry and tattered, and vegetation on the ground is drying, ripening, going to seed. And human-wilting muggy days are more common.

Accordingly, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is showing the likelihood of heavy rain across southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin over the next week, especially on the 18th.

15-22Aug15_precip

The forecast here for the week (14-21 August) following the New Moon was simple: “somewhat cooler, dry.” That was based largely on the primary indication in the New Moon chart: the cold earth sign Capricorn (where Saturn is lord) on the lower meridian. Capricorn is also apt to denote storminess, but other chart factors were not indicative. (The vertically-bisected circle within the outer ring of the chart below shows the upper meridian at the time of the New Moon, while the horizontally-bisected circle shows the zodiacal point on the eastern horizon.)

CN-Ing_NM-Aug-2015

A significant shift in wind patterns affecting this latitude is shown by Mercury at the time of the New Moon exactly on the horizon of the season chart. This signifies the likelihood of notable wind events, but not necessarily precipitation.

What can bring rainfall is the Moon’s crossing of the horizon of the season chart, in the morning of the 16th. And in fact the Weather Service is forecasting rain on the 16th.

But a “slow moving low pressure system over Minnesota” on the 18th? Stalled-out situations and heavy storms seem more likely on the 21st and 22nd (as previously forecast), as the First Quarter Moon (and of course the Sun as well) is configured with Saturn.

Whose forecast for the week will be borne out: the astro-meteorologist’s or the techno-meteorologists’?

-<zoidion>-

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