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Sunset Line 02/03/2015

Posted by zoidion in herbalism, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s another sunny day, a bit chilly still (relatively), but it carries comfort: The sun, a little higher in the sky each day, has more ability to warm my face and restore some color. Not only is it higher, but also it is clearly on the march: It rises now to the north of the pine tree across the alley.

Thus meteorological spring has arrived, and with it deepening concern about the prospects for needed rain. For I’ve totaled my recorded precipitation for the months of meteorological winter (December through February): 2.01 inches (71% of the normal 2.83).

As for temperature, winter was a mercurial affair: December five degrees above normal, January more than three degrees above, February a full nine degrees below. Very close to average overall.

But winter was far from average for much of the eastern half of the continental US: brutal, with unseasonable cold, snow and ice. Especially for the Boston region, especially in February (though the siege actually began with the storm of 26-28 January). See this previous post.

Not to ignore the suffering of the South. I can attest to a bit of it: I vividly remember standing, on the morning of the New Moon, on the shore of the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri, in bitter cold and a whipping wind. I stood there for only a moment.

Miss_Hannibal

And snow, more of it than at home, was on the ground almost all the way to Memphis. Returning on the “City of New Orleans” a week later, there was a fresh coating of snow across northern Mississippi.

In between, I camped for several days near the north side of Lake Ponchartrain, across from New Orleans, shortly after the rude turn in the weather for Mardis Gras on the 17th. On the 21st the temperature reached the sixties, and sunny low-seventies on the 22nd. But I paid for that comfort with at least a dozen insect bites (I never saw the critters) on my briefly-sandaled feet. (I got some relief by applying some of last year’s comfrey leaves soaked in hot water to the affected areas.)

Although locals were dining al fresco that lovely Sunday, and although I noted budding trees, some daffodils, and fading magnolia blossoms, folks were clear: The season was still winter. And winter there is evidently much cloudy: I was unable to spot the rare conjunction of the crescent Moon with Venus and Mars on the 20th.

But I must say I was warmed by the typical graciousness and courtesy I encountered with the local folks: an antidote to the haste and rudeness that I find frequently in the North — and all too often in myself.

It’s curious, isn’t it, the way North America was divided between light and dark at the moment of the winter solstice (solar Capricorn ingress) 2014? The sunset line cut across the continental US from eastern Montana to the Louisiana coast. Have a look at the astromap below:

CapIng2014_astromap_US

The sunset line is marked in red and a bullseye symbol (for the Sun) with DS (for descendant). To the north and east, the land was in shadow at the solstice moment; to the south and west, the Sun still shone.

It seems to fairly neatly mark halves of the US destined for overall cold and warmth. I’m not saying that Sun above the horizon in a season chart means above-average temperature. But the Sun close to the horizon in such a chart is perhaps a major factor in continental-level forecasting.

And then there’s the Mercury factor: its long sojourn (symbolizing winds) in cold Aquarius, where Saturn is lord, from 4 January to 12 March. A sojourn considerably lengthened by a retrograde phase that began on 21 January.

That was when the hard stage of winter began. And only today does Mercury regain that retrograde point in the zodiac. (Mercury was then in the evening sky, now in the morning sky.)

It’s looking like it will take a few days (see this from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network), and the passing of the Full Moon on the 5th, but the pattern is about to shift.

-<zoidion>-

[What I’m reading: Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline, Morris Berman, 2012. One key point connected to recent personal experience: The more traditional and easygoing culture of the South, aside from the institution of slavery, had — from the point of view of the hustling, industrial “progress”-oriented North — to be crushed.]

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Cold Windy Aquarius 19/01/2013

Posted by zoidion in Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The power of the polar winds coming across vast stretches of treeless territory is impressive.

The day began mild (relatively): about 30 degrees F at eight a.m., with a mostly cloudy sky and light breeze. The temperature surged close to 40 by noon, with the sun occasionally peeking through ragged clouds, trying to fool people into thinking it was early spring weather. We seized the chance to transport our cockatiels and their cage to friends’ house. The neighbor next door had given the okay to go ahead with the plan to have a new living room window installed.

The wind from the northwest arrived with forceful suddenness about two p.m., with the thermometer reading about 35. Whirlwinds of leaves and trash were visible as I ventured out on some errands; pedestrians were leaning into the wind, proceeding on staggering steps. By four p.m., with gaps in the clouds alternating with brief flurries of snow, the temperature was down to 22; by six, the sky was clear, the wind was accustomed to shaking entire trees, and the temperature was down to 15.

The techno-weather folks say we’re in for 36 to 60 hours of below-zero weather—actual temperature: wind chill extra—and that this will be our coldest spell in four years.

We’ve had so many easy winters, temperature-wise, that it seems rude to be confronted with “normal” weather. I suppose we’ll find out whether or not we’re ready for the real thing.

But the overall dry pattern has resumed, after the welcome early-December snows.

 

The sign Aquarius has today amply demonstrated its cold and windy nature, and capacity for abrupt reversals. Mercury entered Aquarius at 1:26 a.m., followed by the Sun at 3:52 p.m.

A sharp change was symbolized by yesterday’s first quarter Moon chart, showing the Moon in the last degree of the warm sign Aries and the Sun and Mercury in the last degree of cold sign Capricorn. The air sign Libra at the crucial lower meridian of that chart forecast a rapid, windy shift in the weather, and cold Saturn relatively near the lower meridian indicated a change in a colder direction. The Moon (the crescent symbol) near the upper meridian showed that mild conditions were very near their end.

1Q-January-2013

 

The Mercury-into-Aquarius chart, representing the new regime of wind—brief, until Mercury enters Pisces on February 5—is emphatically cold, even with Mars in Aquarius near the lower meridian. Aquarius is the coldest of the signs, and Mars is incapable of warming it up (but it can add force). The lower meridian represents the north—the upper meridian, of course, the south, the Ascendant the east—and Mercury there represents the cold wind coming from the north. (In the graphic below, Mercury is the yellow circle above a cross, with antennae; Mars is the red circle with arrow attached; both are near the bottom of the chart, Mercury to the left, Mars to the right of the vertical meridian.)

Mercury-Aquarius-2013

 

Cold and windy—that’s exactly what these charts foretell for these next two weeks. This next week, up to the Full Moon late on the 26th, appears “too cold to snow”: The atmosphere has little moisture-holding capacity. But the following week—represented by the Full Moon chart (not shown), with Capricorn on the lower meridian and Venus in Capricorn eleven degrees away—shows the potential for some significant snow. Not a major storm for this locale, however, but we’ll gratefully take whatever moisture we can get.

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