A note from the Doc: The references to planets and constellations on this site are not astrological in nature, merely the clearest way to reference these positions and angles. For more, please read: Astrology or Astronomy »
The sudden blooming of warmth off of the West Coast has enabled storms to track south into Northern California in an amazing about face for the water year. Up to now the precipitation has been about four inches behind normal and almost eight inches behind a record autumn rainfall last year. Dry skies and very cold temperatures have been the norm since early in the fall for the West Coast. However, starting in early December a subtle cycle of planetary movements was happening that can be linked to the sudden appearance of these beneficial rains.
Figure 1 shows the north eastern Pacific on December 3, 2005. All images in this article are taken from the excellent website The blue sections are cold water and the yellow and red sections are warm water. It can be seen from this image that there is a pocket of warm water to the west of Hawaii and a strong cold pool against the West Coast. Storms need warmth in the ocean in order to propagate. With such a cold pool against the coast there is very little chance of significant storm energies to be developed. Added to the map is the position for the planet Mercury (red dot with arrow north of Hawaii). On December 3 Mercury was at the end of a two week east to west looping pattern in the longitude of Hawaii. For more information about this perspective please see the article on el nino in Doc Weather. The arrow on Mercury is showing the movement of the planet at that time. A motion like this is expected to block the movement of warmth , preventing it from moving east. Generally a blocking planet that is moving retrograde creates a distinct cool zone to the east of its positions and a distinct warmth zone to the west of its position. This is surely the case in this image where a pool of warmth is to the west of the planets position and a pool of cold water is to the east of the planets position.
In this image taken on December 9, 2005 Mercury has come off of its retrograde looping pattern and is now slowly moving direct, that is, west to east in the longitude of Hawaii. The arrow shows it new direction of travel. Compared with the first figure this image shows that the strong cool pool in the Gulf of Alaska is being broken down from the west, and that the cold pool that was against the coast is now being driven against the coast. This can be seen in the intensification of the dark blue areas in the lower right-hand sections of the blue field.
Remarkably, in the third figure from December 17, 2005 the intense cold pool in the Gulf of Alaska is dissolving as Mercury begins to move more rapidly towards the east across the Gulf of Alaska. This day was the last day of the abnormally dry fall. On that day the warmth spread throughout the eastern Pacific allowed for clouds to build up and for fronts to acquire moisture as they transited the ocean as they moved towards the coast. On the 17th, 18th and 19th, California received as much rain as it had since last April. Suddenly the winter pattern was effective and the skies began to bring moisture to the dry earth. In this image it can also be seen that a green colored planet, Venus, is moving in a retrograde motion to the east of Mercury. Prior to that date Venus was moving west to east or directly across the eastern Pacific. As it is happening now the direct motion of Mercury is moving against the retrograde motion of Venus. This is all happening in the eastern Pacific.
This last image shows a further intrusion of warmth into the coast. During the last part of this month the rains have been an almost daily occurrence since December 22nd. It can be seen from the chart however, that Mercury is now much farther eastward and is moving into the coast. On December 20th in the lower right of the image Venus can be seen moving in retrograde motion against the direct motion of Mercury. The space between them is actively filling with warm water that is dissipating the cold against the coast, while the north eastern sections of the Gulf of Alaska are once again beginning to turn towards coolness. We can expect that the two planets meeting in opposite directions in the far eastern Pacific will warm the waters there. It can also be expected that the northeastern section of the Gulf of Alaska will continue to cool off. This should shut off the Alaska track for a little bit while the persons who let water out of the straining dams along California and Oregon take a breath and contemplate the sudden rush of water in the last two weeks.
What happens now, remains to be seen. But a lull in the early part of January would not be out of the question with a resumption of storm energies again until mid month. Doc Weather invites visitors on this site to follow the exquisite dance between Mercury and Venus in our area until Venus and Mercury cross each other in mid January and the potentials for unusual weather go with them.