The Tribune reports that today ends Chicago's second-wettest spring ever, the wettest May ever, and the only second month in recorded history (out of 1,770 months) to have 21 days of precipitation. This might become the new normal: 9 of the last 10 Mays have had above-average precipitation.
Lake Michigan, the inland sea ten blocks from where I'm sitting, has near-record water levels:
Lake Ontario, downstream, has swelled by almost a meter in the last two months to all-time record levels:
So not only has all this rain has caused massive flooding in rivers throughout the Midwest, but the high lake levels prevent rivers from draining and have accelerated wetland erosion along the shore.
Another thing: all this fresh water drains out through the St Lawrence Seaway right into the North Atlantic. Combined with meltwater coming off Greenland, that surge of lighter, fresher water is slowing the thermohaline circulation that brings warmth to Northern Europe. So as most of the world gets warmer, Europe could get a lot colder in the next century.
Said any climate scientist ever interviewed this past year, "We told you so 30 years ago."
Yesterday Chicago set a few weather records: wettest Memorial Day ever recorded, tied for most days in May with measurable prediction (18), tied for most days in May that have had more than 7.6 mm of precipitation (10), and up to the 3rd wettest month of May (186 mm). And we have more rain predicted tonight.
Warmer air holds more moisture. The atmosphere worldwide is warmer. QED.
Yesterday evening, I needed to wear earmuffs and gloves when walking Parker because of the 7°C weather. Yes, it's the middle of May, but we've had a really screwy spring this year.
Today I don't need gloves. Our official temperature bloomed from 8°C to 26°C in the past six hours. Even close to the lake, where I live, it's already warmer outside than inside—and I had the heat on briefly this morning!
Today the forecast looks hot and humid, before temperatures plunge again Sunday night. Then hot again next weekend. And maybe seasonally appropriate when meteorological summer begins two weeks from today.
Who knows. Welcome to Chicago in spring.
This month, Chicago has gotten some truly awful weather, more than most Aprils I remember. We saw only the second April in history to get two—count 'em—two snowstorms, the other time in 1938. This caps the snowiest season in 5 years and the 6th snowiest April ever.
Even though we had gorgeous, seasonably-cool weather yesterday, today through Thursday we will get so much rain not even the president could hyperbolize it enough.
We just want spring. The four days in April we got decent spring weather somehow don't seem sufficient.
I moved into my current place back in October. For the first time since then, just now, I opened one of the windows in my office. (I'll have to close it again pretty soon because of the squall line coming this way.)
That's because, for the first time since October 31st—when I wasn't home during the day to open it—it's 16°C at O'Hare.
It's about time.
It's March, meaning it's meteorologically spring, but this morning it doesn't feel that way. The overnight low at O'Hare bottomed out at -19.4°C, with a forecast high today around -9°C. We may even hit a record for the coldest March 4th in recorded history. Real spring-like weather won't come until Saturday, at the earliest, when it'll stay above freezing all day while it rains on us.
At least we have a pleasant side-effect to this Arctic high-pressure system squatting over Chicago right now:
This past weekend's performances went better than I expected, even with last night's temperature hovering around 32°C on the Pritzker stage.
Our entire Memorial Day weekend has been hot. Yesterday's official temperature at O'Hare (36°C) hit an all-time record for May 27th and was the warmest day in Chicago since 23 July 2012, almost 6 years ago.
So let me tell you how great it felt to be outside, wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and black jeans, singing, for an hour.
The forecast calls for record heat today (35°C) and then some modest cooling by Wednesday.
For the record, that means spring lasted about 24 hours last week.
So far, this April ranks as the 2nd coldest in Chicago history. We had snow this past weekend, and we expect to have snow tonight—on April 18th.
So it may come as a surprise to people who confuse "weather" and "climate" that, worldwide, things are pretty hot:
The warm air to our north and east has blocked the cold air now parked over the midwestern U.S. Europe, meanwhile, feels like August. And Antarctica feels like...well, Antarctica, but unusually warm.
Note that the temperature anomalies at the bottom of the image above are based on the 1980-2010 climate normal period, which was warmer than any previous 30-year period. In other words, the poles may be 3-5°C warmer than normal now and also 4-7°C warmer than any point in recorded history.
At least, historically, a cold spring means a cool summer here. Lake Michigan is a very cold 5°C today, a few degrees below normal for this time of year, and a huge sink for summer heat later on. Here's hoping, anyway.
We had an absolutely beautiful day in Chicago yesterday. I ate lunch outside after going for a walk to obtain it. Birds sang. Trees started budding. The sun shone.
And then, suddenly, the sun didn't shine anymore:
Chicago lies in the transition zone between cold air to the north and mild, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and where the boundary passes a point in its gradual southward push, the temperature drop is remarkable. On Thursday afternoon the boundary, actually a sharp cold front, pushed across downtown Chicago, and the temperature plunged from 22°C at 2:43 pm to 10°C at 2:53 pm — a 12°C drop in 10 minutes.
Yeah, that's my city. Today the weather will be gray and cool, then wet and cold tomorrow, and then Sunday we could have snow. In bloody April.
The irony? The cold weather in Chicago is actually a predicted effect of global warming. Warm polar air and a warm air mass off the east coast of North America have trapped a cold air mass over the prairie provinces and northern Quebec. The world as a whole is warmer than normal today. If you're in Europe, for example, you're having a really nice evening.