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Mars declination in February 2005 - 01.15.05

As Mars transits the West Coast in February look for storms. Find out what is in store in this article.



This article is a continuation of the studies in declination recently given in Doc Weather as Mercury declination and El Nino patterns. In this present article the shift in jet stream activity when Mars is crossing the West Coast of the United States is presented. Every two years the planet Mars transits the longitude of the constellation Sagittarius. In this motion it follows the declination of the Sun's ecliptic. A chart for this solar motion is given in figure 1. Through a geometric geodetic projection technique this movement of the Sun and of Mars can be related to the eastern Pacific. In the orbital pattern of Mars this transit through the eastern Pacific always occurs when Mars, like the Sun, is at the lowest point in declination for the two-year period. This is similar to the declination pattern for Mercury and even for Venus. As it mirrors this solar template, Mars is most often at a very low declination for a whole month as it transits Sagittarius. This is the low path period of Mars.

When the West Coast transit is during the winter months then the Mars passage is often accompanied by turbulent weather and a southward shift of the jet stream during the transit. It can be seen from the following survey that during Mars' low path periods that take place in the winter, the storm jet in the eastern Pacific tends to stay fixed in the south. Due to shifting rhythms in the orbit of Mars the timing of the low path transit through the eastern Pacific slowly shifts through a decade. In the decade of the 70"s the Mars low path coast transit took place during December. Because this was in the winter storm season, this was prime time for shifting the jet stream to the south on the West Coast. During the early 80"s the low path period slowly shifted to October/ November. In 1986 Mars went retrograde at a very low latitude in Sagittarius / Capricorn. This retrograde motion during that transit of the West Coast was coincident with a period in which the monthly rains were double the normal rate. The southerly drifting of the east Pacific jet stream has implications for not only southern California, but also for the rainfall patterns of the Midwest. The following is a survey of Mars transit patterns related to the southerly drifting of the eastern Pacific jet stream.



In figure 2 we see the low path of Mars as it follows the ecliptic (red arrow) and the typical pattern for the east Pacific jet that is the result (blue arrow). This path has developed on most of the transits that Mars has made in recent times. The following is a sample of the years of those transits. The first is a transit that occurred from April to July 2001. Mars entered Sagittarius in mid April and temperatures in California were below normal due to a southward tracking jet stream. The path for storm energies was from the Gulf of Alaska down through the Pacific Northwest and Northern California into the Dakotas and Wyoming. This brought extreme storms into Minnesota in April and an unusual cold spell to California. .

Two years earlier, in October 1999 Mars was at it's lowest declination at 25° S latitude while it transited the last few degrees of Scorpio and entered Sagittarius on the 10th of October as it was slowing down in declinational motion. This was accompanied by cooler than normal temperatures and a persistent low- pressure pattern where fronts moved south along the West Coast. When the Hawaii high did assert itself during the transit time, it formed a broad horizontally oriented block instead of a more vertically oriented high, placed meridionally against the coast. The pattern seems to be that low declination in a transiting planet pulls a sitting high down into a more horizontal form as the storm jet moves to the south.

Two years earlier, in 1997 Mars transited the eastern Pacific (Sagittarius) during November and was at maximum southerly declination during that month. 4.6 inches or rain fell during that month doubling normal totals. The heavy precipitation pattern followed a very dry September and an average October and was followed, in turn, by a very dry December. The rains fell only while Mars was in the lowest part of its transit.

Two years earlier, in November 1995 Mars was transiting Sagittarius in late November and early December. The autumn from September to mid November of 1995 was the driest fall on record. As Mars moved into its lowest point in declination in December rains began falling and the total for December was 50% above the average. The following month of January, as Mars moved off of the lowest declination latitude of the year, rainfall was 50 % below average.

Two years earlier, in December 1993 the pattern as usual presented itself that the Mars maximum southerly declination took place as Mars was transiting from Scorpio into Saggitarius in the longitude of the east Pacific. Early fall precipitation was very light as Mars approached the maximum southern latitude. However, during the period of maximum southerly declination for the Mars coastal transit, precipitation rose dramatically.

From this brief survey it can be seen that approximately every two years, Mars transits can be counted on for unusual weather patterns on the West Coast.
In 2004/2005 Mars once again goes across the West Coast during the storm season. The period for the transit is from January 22nd 2005 until the first few days of March. This means that most likely the whole month of February will be a very active one on the West Coast for the southern positioning of the polar jet stream. The second, third and fourth week of February look especially promising for widespread storms on the coast since the tendency for the jet stream to drop to the south during the Mars approach to the coast will be supported by shifts in the jet curve values at that time towards low pressure values. Let's watch for this one, it looks to be pretty strong.