Storm of the Centry 1979

September 3, 2010
By Dennis Klocek

The atmosphere is a river of air flowing above our heads in ceaseless meandering currents and eddies. The patient observer can come to recognize what are known as singularities in the deceptively chaotic flow of this great river of air. A singularity is a pattern that repeats itself in subtle but recognizable sequences. Most often singularities are linked to climate patterns in a given area. For instance, the yearly advance of a wave of thunderstorms out of the Baja peninsula that starts in the early spring brings a much appreciated American monsoon to the Rockies. This pattern is an American singularity. However, the continued advance of that wave of thunderstorms on a northward tack takes it through the Colorado plateau in summer towards an eventual arrival in Wisconsin in the fall. The arrival of the summer like wave of warm weather creates the well known Indian summer in that area. Indian summer is another recognized climate singularity of North America. Some years the wave is stronger and some years it is weaker but the climate trend is there most years. Climate is the macro level of atmospheric research. Weather is the micro level of study.

However, weather patterns can reveal hidden climate dynamics when unusually powerful storms are studied in a context of the rhythmic motions of the Sun and Moon. Studying the evolution of major storm patterns with these planetary rhythms as a backdrop is a productive way to reveal the subtle rhythmic signatures embedded in long term climate trends. The title “storm of the century” is given to storms that are singularly memorable in either the breadth of their expansiveness or the intensity of their ferocity. One such storm of the century happened in the winter of 1979. This was a winter event that brought misery to a wide swath of the southeast and mid Atlantic coast.

The following study of the great storm of February 18, 1979 will be presented in the context of the system of long range weather forecasting known as Climatrends. The Climatrends system uses the geometries and rhythmic periods of the motion of the planets to construct dynamic sequencing models of movements of past weather events. These case studies then lead to an understanding of the dynamics of future climate trends. The great storm of 1979 had classic planetary events at its genesis so it can be used to illustrate some of the most fundamental aspects of the Climatrends forecasting system.

Central to the system is a technique for projecting precise planetary placements onto the earth. This system, known as geodetic equivalency is explained in detail in the book Climate: Soul of the Earth by this author. These projective techniques are very useful for the construction of dynamical models for future climate scenarios. One key feature of these techniques is known as the sun line (red line in Figure 1).

Over time it has been possible to identify that the solar position in celestial longitude can be projected to a relative position in terrestrial longitude. This was discovered after many years of observing the action of blocking ridges in the context of the motions of the Sun and Moon. The blocking ridges are like rocks in the stream of the atmosphere.Currents of storms swirl and flow around them like eddies in a mountain stream. Using geodetic projection techniques it is possible to observe that if the terrestrial longitude of the Sun is projected ontoEarth (red line in figure 1), that coordinate is a site that is often the resting place of masses of high pressure air. (H in figure1) Such high pressure air masses often serve as blocks to the general west to east flow of the atmosphere. These masses of high pressure air, known as blocking ridges steer the flow of the currents that move above the continents. Some ridges are mobile. Others are more fixed in their positions. Some are fixed for a certain time and then suddenly slip their moorings to drift away in the currents of the general circulation The art of long range forecasting is dependent upon being able to tell where a block will form and for how long. While we have no explanation for why the sun line works the way it does, its discovery was met with great enthusiasm since it has proved to be a reliable bookmark for the placement of blocking ridges making it possible to produce accurate long range forecasts. In the great storm of February1979 the sun line was positioned over the Ozarks on the 11th of February. That is the first singularity of that great storm.

If one can find evidence of a sun line it seems somehow reasonable to expect some kind of influence from the Moon. Indeed, as well as a sun line of influences it can be observed that when the Moon passes a position in longitude there is a tendency for air masses to move along with the planet as it transits a given position and then either drift off to the east following the wake of the Moon or snap back into the original position once the Moon has passed. In Climatrends system this is known as the moon line influence. The Moon, in contrast to the slow 1° daily increments of the Sun moves 13° each day making a complete circuit of the Sun’s yearly path in the period of one month.

The action of the Moon is to relocate the blocking ridges created by the Sun,or at least, push them around a little.We call this action a moon transit. It has repeatedly been observed that this pushing action is evident even in the exact opposite area or reflex position to the actual position of the Moon.We call this a moon reflex transit. In February 1979 it was a moon reflex transit that was active in the process of setting up a blocking ridge on the sun line on the 11th. As the lunar reflex transit approached the West Coast a ridge that was generated a week earlier off of Baja California followed the action of the reflex moon and moved in sync with it towards the sun line. (Fig 2) Air masses that are pushed up against the sun line are generally blocked and squeezed causing them to intensify. In the great storm of 1979 the motion of the Moon against the block did just that. The high grew in size and intensity the more it approached the sun line. This, in turn, entrained the jet stream to rise from southwest to northeast across the Great Divide. The movement of this ridge was the second singularity of the great storm of 1979.

The third element in the Climatrends system is the use of lunar declination to gauge the evolution and shape of the blocking air masses. Research done in China (Li Guoquing; Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 2004) provided this element to the system and has proved to be useful in unraveling the more subtle forces in the climate system. Details of this work can be found in Climate:Soul of the Earth published by Lindisfarne Press in New York.

In the timing of the larger movement of the planets the Moon has a rhythm in which it slowly moves above the equator for two weeks and then moves below the equator for two weeks. This motion is known as declination. The research by Li Guoquing using the atomic clock in Switzerland showed that when the Moon was passing the equator at 0° latitude there was a tendency for the atmosphere to establish what climatologists call zonal flow. Zonal flow is a strong west to east motion of the jet stream. When the jet is in a zonal flow pattern for a few days pressure is built up in the atmosphere. The pressure is the source of storm systems and blocking ridges. As a result, a zonal flow pattern normally instigates a downstream buckling of the jet stream that supports storm formation. The buckling happens when the Moon moves to maximum northern or southern declination. The Moon reaches that position about a week after commencement of zonal flow. The buckling phase of the jet stream is known as meridional flow. Meridional flow creates north / south loops in the jet stream that steer storms up and down in latitude across the land masses. Think of the action of a fire hose open at one end. During meridional flow regimes, established air masses tend to elongate north and south but also tend to stay in place.

In Figure 3 the zonal jet is seen moving into a looping phase around the blocking ridge established on the Sunline. The upstream side (west) of the jet is forming a strong low or trough over the Northwest. The downstream side of the jet (east) is forming a strong low or trough over the Northeast. The ridge in the center is like an idler gear of a transmission that is shunting warmPacific air up into Minnesota and then directing it down into the Central states.In the formation of the great storm of1979 the jet started zonal flow on the 15th and was moving towards meridional flow (north and south orientation of air masses on the 21st. The patterns of meridional flow are illustrated by the elongated form of the two lows in the chart. The resulting pattern is a classical trough / ridge / trough sequence that is the signature of the strongest storms.

If we put all of the singularities together an interesting dynamic picture arises in the timing of the storm. (Figure 4) Starting on the 8th the Moon was in the first meridional phase that month. This motion created a north /south movement in the atmosphere(not shown) in the eastern Pacific that resulted in the deposition of a high pressure area off of the coast of California. (A in Figure 4) The moon reflex transit then moved the ridge onto Baja California and across theSouthwest for the next few days. (B toC in figure 4). The ridge followed the moon reflex line until it ran into the sun line over the Gulf Coast. (D in figure 4) Once at the sun line, the ridge stopped transiting and intensified as the Moon moved into a zonal flow pattern on the 15th. That was one week after the meridional flow that generated the ridge off of Baja. The new zonal flow now fed the ridge strong west to east jet stream forces helping it to build against the sun line. As the zonal flow intensified the ridge for a few days, on either side of the ridge moderate jet stream troughs formed both upstream and downstream of the ridge in a classic trough / ridge / trough pattern that is a signature of the most potent storms. The zonal flow was causing some initial buckling of the jet.

The enhanced flow also reduced the size of the ridge. This continued for a few days but then, once again, the moon turned towards a north / south meridional flow pattern. This caused the lows to elongate. The ridge that was being reduced in extent by the growth of the troughs had also been moving along to the east keeping touch with the sun line.As the Moon once again approached a meridional flow regime, the sun line with the ridge in tow had had moved over the southeastern coast. In that position the clockwise circulation of the ridge was bringing up moisture from the Gulf ofMexico. The shift to a meridional north / south pattern of the Moon was now supporting the elongation of the low off of the northeast coast. The counter-clockwise circulation around the elongating low brought cold down into the mid Atlantic seaboard. The cold from the low was now meeting the moist warmth from the ridge. At this juncture the storm turned ugly for the eastern states and went into the record books.


In the Climatrends system there are two more layers of movement data that involve a proprietary gridding system base don the positions of eclipses. Figure 5 The grid allows for the daily movements of all of the other planets to be integrated onto a chart and color coded for analysis. These other two layers are much more geometrically complex but are necessary in order for accurate long range forecasts to be made. Descriptions of those layers of data are beyond the scope of this article. However, the intent of this article was to show how observing the rhythmic interplay of the Sun and Moon creates possibilities for forecasting how complexes of climate singularities will weave in time to create memorable weather events.

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Dennis Klocek

Dennis Klocek, MFA, is co-founder of the Coros Institute and a faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College. He is the author of nine books, including the newly released Colors of the Soul; Esoteric Physiology and also Sacred Agriculture: The Alchemy of Biodynamics. Dennis is also an international lecturer.