The effects of our full moon

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Courtesy photo Randy and Sally Mann.

Weather patterns across the Inland Northwest flipped to the hotter and drier side late last month. On May 30, Coeur d’Alene and other stations reported their first 90-degree day of the season. The last time it was 90 degrees in this part of the country was on Aug. 29, 2016.

We’ll have lots of sunshine and very warm afternoon temperatures over the next few days. However, there is an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms during the “full moon” lunar cycle of June 9-15. Toward the end of the month, I see a few more 90-degree days. July and August should be a littler drier and warmer before the moisture returns in the fall.

This upcoming full moon will be the farthest and smallest of this year, about 30,000 miles farther from the Earth than during a supermoon, or lunar apogee. This cycle of so-called mini-moons occurs approximately one year, one month and 18 days after the last one. So, the next time the moon will be small during a full moon will be on July 27, 2018.

After June 9, the full moon will come closer to the Earth until becomes the largest full moon, which is expected on Jan. 2, 2018. This is called the perigee and often referred to as a supermoon.

Also, this smallest full moon on June 9 will be near the planet Saturn, which would make for an interesting sight for dedicated skywatchers.

We humans owe a great debt to the moon as it literally stabilizes the Earth’s rotation. The moon also provides our seasons and has slowed the Earth’s rotation. If our moon was smaller or non-existent, scientists say that our planet would have much shorter days.

One of the big myths about the moon is that there is a dark side. Actually, both sides of the moon receive the same amount of sunlight. However, we see only one face of the moon because it rotates on its own axis at exactly the same time it takes to orbit around the Earth. In other words, we see the same full moon every month as the same side faces the Earth. The only way we could see the “dark side” is from a spacecraft.

Our moon is also drifting away from the Earth about 1.5 inches per year. So, if we’re here in 50 billion years, the moon will be far enough from our planet to take about 47 days to orbit the Earth, rather than the current 27.3 days.

We know that the first man to set foot on the moon was Neil Armstrong from the Apollo 11 mission. The last person to walk on the moon was Gene Cernan in 1972 on the Apollo 17 mission. In 2018, NASA is planning an uncrewed Orion fly to a distant orbit around the moon. In 2018 or 2019, we could see two astronauts on a nine-day trip around the moon.

Many of our long-range forecasts are based upon the lunar cycles. Farmers have been planting by the moon for thousands of years. Everyone agrees that the full moon, and even the new moon, lead to noticeable changes in ocean tides. We believe that if the lunar cycles can affect the tides of the oceans, then why not the tides of the air.

During the full moon and new moon cycles, upper-level winds will change as the low pressure troughs, or dips in the jet stream, become greater while the high pressure ridges will amplify, especially toward the end of the cycle. By contrast, during the first and last quarter lunar phases, the jet stream often becomes more zonal and storm systems are usually not as intense.

In addition to the increased moisture, our area will often see its coldest weather in the winter and its hottest temperatures in the summer during a full moon event as the troughs and ridges become more pronounced.

These cycles don’t work every single time, but we have found that they are reliable about 75 to 80 percent of time, especially in the Northwest. Those are pretty good odds.

SPECIAL NOTE

On May 25, my best friend and adorable wife of over 26 years, Sally, passed away after her battle with cancer. I wanted to thank the many people who have given me their support, friendship, thoughts, and prayers through this very difficult time. Both of us were touched by the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and many other professionals who provided their care and compassion.

I also wanted to thank the amazing people at the Hospice Schneidmiller House and my sister Susan who helped me care for her. As per Sally’s wishes, no memorial service is planned.

Sally and I arrived in Coeur d’Alene in 2004. I’m certain that many readers knew her as she was the counter manager for many years at the Estee Lauder counter at Macy’s in the Silver Lake Mall. She touched many lives and I was told that many customers were so loyal to Sally, they would wait for her rather than to receive help from other associates.

Sally and I met, amazingly enough, at a pajama party in Sacramento, Calif., in 1984. Both of us lived in California and then moved to Vermont in 1995. I was very blessed to have such a sweet and caring wife. We had wonderful adventures over the years that included many travels across the country and the world.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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