I'm back in my downtown Chicago office after working at home every day for almost exactly four months. It's weird, as I'm once again the only one on the floor, but that will change pretty soon. And I'll still be working from home three days a week.
I did miss the view.
I've already done 8 km of walks this morning, and tomorrow I'm doing another 9. (Tomorrow's will end at Sketchbook Brewing, so I'll be even more motivated.) After being cooped up at home and forced to get my daily steps bundled up like the Michelin Man for a few weeks, I feel a bit liberated. The sidewalks are almost all clear (except for a few buildings whose owners suck, like the Cagan Management-run apartments near me), it's already 8°C outside, and the sky is crystal-clear. Tomorrow we might get a little rain before 9am but the afternoon looks absolutely gorgeous.
Spring hasn't officially begun yet, but it sure feels like it.
From our local television station, WGN-TV, an amazing video of ice breaking up on Lake Michigan this past Sunday and Monday:
I read the news today, oh boy. And one of the stories reminded me of this movie:
See if you can guess which one.
- The FBI charged Richard Michetti, of Ridley Park, Pa., with several crimes related to the January 6 insurrection after his ex-girlfriend turned over photos, videos, and texts of Michetti storming the Capitol. She did so shortly after he called her a "moron" in one of the texts.
- The North Atlantic Overturning Circulation has declined to its lowest point in over a millennium, threatening to make Northern Europe's weather more like Canada's and to raise sea levels along the US Atlantic coast. Note that global warming slowing the ocean's thermohaline circulation was predicted back in the 1980s.
- Following Monday's unsigned order from the United States Supreme Court, Mazars USA, the XPOTUS's accounting firm, has turned over 8 years of Trump Organization tax records to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
- Dominion Voting Systems' legal filings against Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spared no one's feelings.
- The New Yorker's Eric Lach puzzles over "the sound and fury of Andrew Cuomo."
- If you're a mom at wit's end trying to manage children during the pandemic, Jennifer Senior wants you to know you're not alone.
Finally, Chicago managed 58 hours of above-freezing temperatures (from 1pm Monday until 11pm yesterday) leaving us with only 15 cm of snow on the ground and a chance it'll all be gone by this time tomorrow. The forecast calls for daytime highs above freezing every day through next week, possibly hitting 10°C over the weekend. Spring!
Now in our 46th hour above freezing, with the sun singing, the birds coming up, and the crocuses not doing anything noteworthy, it feels like spring. We even halted our march up the league table in most consecutive days of more than 27.5 cm of snow on the ground, tying the record set in 2001 at 25 days. (Only 25 cm remained at 6am, and I would guess a third of that will melt by noon.)
So, what else is going on in the world?
And now, back to work.
Spring in Chicago tends to produce lots of mud. We can already tell this year will produce epic amounts.
The temperature has stayed above freezing for 30 hours now, hitting 8°C just after noon. So far (at O'Hare, anyway) 12½ cm of snow has melted, and will continue to melt until the temperature goes below freezing again tomorrow night.
The water has to go somewhere. The city helpfully creates massive ice dams where sidewalks meet roads, so most of it just pools there. (I'll have photos maybe tomorrow.) Eventually it gets to Lake Michigan, which is nearly half a meter below its record-setting levels from last February, so it's got room.
I'm just glad to have a full day above freezing. We've needed it.
It's exactly 0°C in Chicago this afternoon, which is a bog-standard temperature for February 3rd. And it's sunny, which isn't typical. So, with the forecast for a week of bitter cold starting Friday evening, I'm about to take a 30-minute walk to take advantage of today's weather. First, though:
Early February is also the time of year when we start imagining spring. Tomorrow's sunrise is at 7am for the first time since December 1st, and we had 10 hours of daylight last week for the first time since mid-November. Yes, Chicago typically has an Arctic blast sometime during February. But Spring begins in 25 days. We can make it.
The second-wettest spring in Chicago's history ended Sunday, clocking in at 427 mm of precipitation since March 1st. (The record was 445 mm set in 1983.)
Temperatures averaged just a bit above normal for the season, at 10.2°C (1.0°C above normal).
Today we might get a record high temperature. The forecast calls for 33°C, which would tie the record set in 1944.
Also, the Lake Michigan-Huron system finished its fifth straight month with record water levels, averaging about 930 mm above normal.
The Illinois State Climatologist office has more.
No larger message here. I just thought a post about the weather would be a good break from everything else.
Since January 2019, Chicago has had only two months with above-average sunshine, and in both cases we only got 10% more than average. This year we're ticking along about 9% below, with no month since July 2019 getting above 50% of possible sunshine.
In other news:
- Former White House Butler Roosevelt Jerman, who served from 1957 to 2012, died of Covid-19 at age 91.
- One wonders, if the current White House had acted more propitiously, would Jerman have lived longer? Researchers suggest yes, if we'd locked down a week earlier, we would have 36,000 fewer Covid-19 deaths.
- The US saw 2.4 million more unemployment claims last week, bringing the national total to 39 million and Illinois' to 1 million.
- Ichan School of Medicine virologist Benjamen tenOever lays out how SARS-CoV-2 hijacks cellular machinery to suppress interferon production while boosting chemokines, which may explain why the virus is so damaging and hard to kill.
- President Trump "said the corrupt part out loud" in his threats to Michigan and Nevada yesterday, says Greg Sargent.
- Because it's 2020, and we haven't gotten through all the plagues yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1st.
- What happens to cities that depend on giant cruise ships if the ships won't go there? (NB: Perfect time to visit Venice or Alaska right now, except for the virus.)
- Block Club Chicago lays out what could open if the state moves to Phase 3 of the "Restore Illinois" plan a week from tomorrow.
- Around the corner from where I lived until 2015, a condo association is suing the private school next door for fraud, alleging the Francis Parker School illegally attempted to take over the condominium board through straw-man condo purchases.
- The European Southern Observatory revealed evidence of planets forming around a nearby star.
Finally, having "walktails" with friends may be a thing, but because drinking alcohol on public streets in Chicago is prohibited by city ordinance, I cannot admit to ever doing this.
So far—and keep in mind, we're only 2/3 done with the month—Chicago has had more precipitation this May than in any previous May, with 216 mm total. It's interesting to note that 2019 and 2018 were also the wettest Mays ever, with 210 mm and 208 mm respectively.
In Northwest Michigan, the record rainfall caused a pair of dams to break, flooding the town of Midland under 2.75 m of water.
The Lake Michigan-Huron system continues at record levels for the fifth month in a row, with no sign of receding.
Welcome to the new normal.