Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Page 1 of 14 in the Weather category Next Page
Tuesday 1 July 2014

Wow, last night's rain was officially epic:

The rate at which rain fell across the Midwest Monday was extraordinary in a number of locations.

Highland, Park’s 98 mm fell between 6 and 11:59 p.m. In just a fraction of that period, Midway Airport logged 20 mm. It fell in just 7 minutes! Lake In the Hills , IL received 66 mm in just 2 hours.

But rainfall rates west in Iowa were even more dramatic. Williamstown received 133 mm in the day’s 3 waves of rainfall while 114 mm of Muscatine, Iowa’s 207 mm of rain fell between 7 and 8 p.m.

Yes, 207 mm fell on a town in Iowa. That's 207 liters of water per square meter of ground, which works out to 8,280 tons—almost 8.3 million liters—of water per Chicago city block. (A Chicago city block is 200 meters to a side.)

Ah. My air boat has arrived. Off to work now...

Tuesday 1 July 2014 07:33:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

I've written about weather for a while. And despite my raising the alarm about anthropogenic climate change, I'm not given to hyperbole. But, wow. This is going on in Chicago right now, and it's epic:

Seriously, I think one of my neighbors just ushered a pair of squirrels into the boat he built today...

Play us out, EFO:

Monday 30 June 2014 22:38:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 22 June 2014

Not quite, but in today's New York Times he tries to get Republican acceptance that climate change is real:

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

Krugman thinks Paulson is shouting at the wind:

[W]hat’s sad is that he imagines that anyone in the party he still claims as his own is listening. Earth to Paulson: the GOP you imagine, which respects science and is willing to consider even market-friendly government interventions like carbon taxes, no longer exists. The reins of power now rest firmly, irreversibly, in the hands of men who believe that climate change is a hoax concocted by liberal scientists to justify Big Government, who refuse to acknowledge that government intervention to correct market failures can ever be justified.

Given the state of U.S. politics today, climate action is entirely dependent on Democrats, With a Democrat in the White House, we got some movement through executive action; if Democrats eventually regain the House, there could be more. If Paulson believes that he can support Republicans while still pushing for climate action, he’s just delusional.

It's really depressing that the main opposition party in the most powerful country the earth has ever seen has an institutional rejection of evidence and data. It's part of the right-wing mindset: they're right-wing because they can't accept being wrong.

Sunday 22 June 2014 12:40:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Weather#
Saturday 31 May 2014

It's the end of May, and the weather matches. I pushed some software into production this morning, which is already more productivity than necessary on a day like this.

Forget it. I'm going outside. See you in June.

Saturday 31 May 2014 14:44:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 16 May 2014

Yesterday my trip to work was cold and wet, while on the West Coast it was so warm people in San Francisco were trying to remember if their apartments had air conditioning. (They don't.)

Well, it's no longer quite as hot in San Francisco, but here in Chicago it's still cold and wet: 4°C and—wait, you'll love this—snow.

That's right, past the mid-point of May and only two weeks from the start of meteorological summer, it snowed in Chicago.

Friday 16 May 2014 08:18:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 15 May 2014

Last night the temperature here got down to 5°C, which feels more like early March than mid-May. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, yesterday got up to 33°C, which to them feels like the pit of hell. In fact, even in the hottest part of the year (early October), San Francisco rarely gets that warm. The Tribune explains:

The North American jet stream pattern, a key driver of the country’s weather, has taken on the same incredibly “wavy”—or, as meteorologists say —“meridional”—configuration which has so often dominated the winter and spring. This sort of pattern leads to temperature extremes across the content.

Pools of unseasonably warm air are in place on each coast while unseasonably cool air is sandwiched between and dominates Chicago and Midwestern weather.

It’s within this slow-moving pool of chilly, unstable (i.e. cloud and precip-generating) air that Chicago resides—a situation likely to continue into Saturday. This is to keep extensive cloudiness and the potential for sporadic showers going over that period of time.

In other words, the forecast for this weekend is continued March with a possibility of April by Monday.

Thursday 15 May 2014 09:50:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#
Tuesday 13 May 2014

Ten days until I get a couple days off...

Tuesday 13 May 2014 15:17:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Cool links | Weather#
Sunday 11 May 2014

The Chicago Tribune has an infographic this weekend with the final statistics of the past winter. After defining the "cold season" as the "period from the first freeze of the fall to the last freeze of spring," and asserting we've had our last freeze (I'll let that float for now), then the 2013-14 winter looked like this:

Measurement Value
First freeze Oct 22nd (-2°C)
Last freeze Apr 16th (-4°C)
Days below freezing 76 (Nov through Mar)
Days below -18°C 26 (Dec through Mar)
Total snowfall 2,082 mm

It would have been helpful, I think, had they included some comparison data. It still encapsulates a really crappy winter, which now, finally, seems over.

Sunday 11 May 2014 08:35:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 8 May 2014

At 1pm, the official temperature at O'Hare was 28°C. It has not been this warm in Chicago since November 7th, six months ago. The last time we had weather warmer than that was September 28th (29°C).

Good thing I'm inside...working...

Update: The official 2pm temperature of 30°C has not occurred in Chicago since September 11th, 239 days ago.

Thursday 8 May 2014 13:48:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 7 May 2014

I almost forgot, even though Illinois Climatologist Jim Angel blogged it earlier today. The new NCA is here. Highlights—with a distinctly Illinois-centered view—via Angel:

  • In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be progressively offset by extreme weather events. Though adaptation options can reduce some of the detrimental effects, in the long term, the combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity.
  • Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality will increase public health risks.
  • Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes, including changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species, increased invasive species and harmful blooms of algae, and declining beach health. Ice cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season [this winter was the exception to the rule - Jim].

If you don't mind using 170 megabytes of bandwidth, you can download the whole thing (or just the parts you want).

Wednesday 7 May 2014 14:41:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | World | Weather#
Saturday 3 May 2014

Via WGN's weather blog, here is the coolest climate visualizer I've seen:

The site also has forecast maps and animation, climate information, and (of course) a blog.

Saturday 3 May 2014 08:25:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cool links | Weather#

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD reported this week that atmospheric carbon dioxide averaged more than 400 ppm in April, a new milestone:

Every single daily carbon dioxide measurement in April 2014 was above 400 parts per million. That hasn’t happened in nearly a million years, and perhaps much longer. Climate scientists have proven that the rise in human-produced greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are “extremely likely” to be the dominant cause of global climate change. The likelihood of dangerous impacts—like sea level rise, hotter heat waves, and certain types of extreme weather—increases with each incremental annual rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide levels have increased by more than 40 percent since humans first started burning fossil fuels in large quantities about 250 years ago. Once released, the carbon dioxide from coal, oil, and natural gas burning can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. Thus, the crux of the problem: There just hasn’t been enough time yet since those first coal-powered factories in Europe for the atmosphere to return to equilibrium. What’s more, the pace of fossil fuel burning has since dramatically quickened—there’ve been more greenhouse gas emissions in the last 40 years than over the previous 200—so carbon dioxide buildup keeps accelerating.

So what about the hockey stick? If you look at the last 800,000 years, the chart of CO2 concentration looks more like a brick wall:

Scary.

Saturday 3 May 2014 08:11:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Weather#
Thursday 1 May 2014

Today is May Day, but it feels like mid-March. Instead of the normal 18°C for May 1st, we're going to get, if we're lukcy, 9°C, with some gray skies and drizzle to drive the point home.

The WGN Weather Center has more:

A sprinkly, damp chill hung over Chicago as April 2014 closed overnight. The month finished 0.2°C below normal—a fraction of the deficit that’s been recorded in a number of recent months.

The shortfall, small as it is, means April goes down in the record books here as the 6th consecutive month with an average temperature cooler than normal.

The 12°C high with which the month closed Wednesday was coolest final day of April in 18 years. That reading was, in marked contrast, a full 18°C cooler than the 29°C high recorded on April 30th a year ago.

Chicago’s cloud cover has been extensive over all four days that the area’s weather pattern has been under the influence of the most recent mammoth spring storm. Sunshine during that period has amounted to a paltry 16%–less than a third normal. Historically, Aprils have produced 52% of their possible sun.

One of the coldest winters in history has given way to one of the dreariest springs in recent memory. No wonder so many people want to leave Illinois.

At least it should be warmer next week.

Thursday 1 May 2014 08:08:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 26 April 2014

I didn't post a lot yesterday because (a) I had tons to do for work and (b) once I'd finished, I had to go out into this:

It got all the way up to 21°C, briefly, and there were actual leaves on the trees for the first time since November.

Today it's sunny and 7°C. It might get up to 14°C sometime this coming week, once it stops raining.

Hey, at least it's spring.

Saturday 26 April 2014 09:12:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 24 April 2014

I mean that literally. With the wind whipping off the lake, our shaded seats never got above 10°C, and felt a whole lot colder. We fled after the 5th inning.

One of the (metaphorically) cool things was how the Cubs used the names of the two teams that played at Weeghman Park when it opened on 23 April 1914: the Chicago Federals and the Kansas City Packers. Here's the scoreboard:

And here's first baseman Mark Rizzo in his historical uniform:

The Cubs lost, of course, 7-5. Some things really never change.

Thursday 24 April 2014 10:14:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Wednesday 23 April 2014

The park is 100 years old today:

The ballpark, which opened April 23, 1914, and celebrates its centennial Wednesday, is a quintessential Chicago building: practical, quietly graceful, a creature of function, not fashion. Despite those rationalist roots, it's a vessel for human emotion: hope, dreams, escapism, nostalgia, wonder — and, as Cubs fans know all too well, disappointment, disgust and bitterness.

Only a smattering of those fans, I suspect, could name the original architects of Wrigley (Zachary Taylor Davis — who also designed Comiskey Park — and his brother Charles). Fewer still would be able to tell you that the ballpark actually reflects the hand of many architects, including the designers of the eclectic Wrigley Building and the art deco Chicago Board of Trade Building.

What those architects wrought, working in a sequence that now covers 10 decades, is remarkable: a building shaped by many different hands that still hangs together beautifully. It helps us hang together, too, creating a shared, almost familylike experience that's all too rare in a world where people devise their own reality on smartphone screens.

Yes, Wrigley needs help; some fans call it a dump. The ballpark is rich in lore but poor in amenities, and its bones have shown inevitable signs of age. Netting prevents chunks of concrete from falling on fans.

A planned revamp, part of a $500 million redevelopment of Wrigley and its environs, promises to finally bring the ballpark into the 21st century. But it's stalled by a bitter dispute between the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, and the owners of rooftop seating perches that peek into the ballpark. Work isn't expected to start until next offseason. So with Wrigley in limbo, here are five reasons why the ballpark captivated us in its first century...

Naturally, as an involuntary season-ticket holder, I'm going to the game, and possibly some of the pre-game festivities. And because it's a beautiful, sunny morning in April, I'm wearing long johns, heavy wool socks, a long-sleeve shirt, an undershirt, a warm hoodie, a winter coat, and fleece gloves. How else would someone dress for a game at Wrigley before Memorial Day?

Game-time forecast: sunny, breezy, 6°C. Brrr.

Wednesday 23 April 2014 08:05:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Sunday 20 April 2014

I just returned from Outer Suburbistan in record time, in under an hour, which was pure dumb luck. As soon as I change I'm going out into the 25°C afternoon. We still haven't hit the 28°C we last saw November 7th, but this is close enough for me.

More later, including possibly some interesting stuff about how I've started (slowly) refactoring the 10-year-old Inner Drive Extensible Architecture to use modern inversion-of-control tools including Castle Windsor and Moq. First, I need to walk the dog. A lot.

Sunday 20 April 2014 16:04:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cool links | Weather#
Tuesday 15 April 2014

This lovely spring morning in Chicago:

It's April 15th. And we have snow on the ground. Again.

At least we got a new record:

Snow has historically been no stranger in Chicago during the month of April. Official snow records indicate a trace or more of snow has fallen this late in 86 of the past 129 seasons dating back to 1884-85. That’s 67% of the time.

But the amount of snow which fell Monday and the fact it occurred within 3 days of 27°C warmth (on Saturday) and on a day which opened near 20°C is without precedent. Neither has occurred before over the 129 year term of official Chicago snow records.

Monday’s preliminary snow totals through 10 pm came in at 30 mm at O’Hare and 25 mm at Midway.

The 30 mm tally at O’Hare equals the amount of snow which typically falls over the full month of April and was the heaviest official snowfall to occur here so late in a season in 3 decades.

Winter, you're drunk. Go home.

Tuesday 15 April 2014 13:11:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 14 April 2014

I just took Parker for his evening constitutional, and discovered it's really warm out. My kitchen thermometer says it's 17°C, but the official temperature at O'Hare is 9°C. That's...unusual. In fact, here's what the weather near me looks like:

So, O'Hare and Midway, which are about 25 km apart, have a temperature delta of fully 10°C. If you look at a slightly more distant pair, say Waukegan and Gary, which are both on Lake Michigan but separated north-to-south by less than 100 km, the temperature delta is almost 16°C. That is one hell of a cold front.

And it's coming...this...way...

Sunday 13 April 2014 22:45:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 13 April 2014

Just this morning I wrote about how warm the weather had gotten (finally!) but how it would get cooler throughout today.

Well, between 10:45 and 11, while I was in the grocery, the wind shifted, plunging the temperature 7°C and making me suddenly under-dressed. Plus, it's foggy.

Spring, we hope, will return in two weeks.

Sunday 13 April 2014 11:23:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Yesterday Chicago got up to 27°C, one more "warmest day since November 7th." We've had a few of those recently. (November 7th got up to 28°C.)

It stayed relatively warm overnight, though, so for the first time in half a year I got to have dinner outside. This morning it's still warm enough to go outside without a jacket.

But this is Chicago. The forecast calls for falling temperatures and rain starting this afternoon, falling to 3°C tonight and slipping below freezing Monday night. With snow.

Sitll, for the next few hours, we have some sun and some warmth, so Parker and I are going outside for a bit.

Sunday 13 April 2014 09:09:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 8 April 2014

Via Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Australia's weather service has observed a growing ENSO event that has implications for the U.S.:

It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70% chance) that an El Niño will develop during the southern hemisphere winter. Although the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures have warmed considerably in recent weeks, consistent with a state of rapid transition. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in coming months. Most models predict sea surface temperatures will reach El Niño thresholds during the coming winter season.

Accuweather says not to worry:

While El Niño will not have an impact on this spring and summer's severe weather, it may come on early enough and strong enough to have impact on the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific.

Disruptive winds, known as wind shear, often develop off the Atlantic coast of the United States and sweep over a large part of the basin during El Niño.

The greatest effects on the weather pattern in the Lower 48 states, including California, occur during the cold season.

El Niño winters are noted for wet and stormy conditions in the South and less-frequent, less-severe cold episodes in the Northern states.

There is a tendency toward dry conditions in the Northwest and North Central states during an El Niño winter.

A nice, warm, dry winter next year would be super. Here's hoping.

Tuesday 8 April 2014 15:42:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 5 April 2014

The Cubs lost 7-2 yesterday, and we didn't even stay to the end. It was depressing. Here's the happy scene before play commenced:

You can't quite see the 40 km/h winds blowing in from left field, nor can you see how I was in long johns, four layers, a winter coat, hat, hoodie, scarf, and gloves, because it was 3 frickin' degrees C.

Today and tomorrow should have better weather, and we should actually have spring weather by Thursday. And the Cubs, having now won only 25% of the games they've played this season, might win a game.

Then, while walking home from the game, I discovered what we in software might call a "human-factors" failure. Note to the City: you may not want to pour fresh concrete walking distance from Wrigley on opening day during high winds that might knock down the barriers. Otherwise you'll get a permanent record of (a) a barrier having fallen into fresh concrete and (b) that drunk people were nearby at the time:

Don't get me wrong; I'm not blaming the victim, who in this case would be the City of Chicago. But, come on, that concrete was practically asking for it. Maybe it shouldn't have gone out alone in Wrigleyville on opening day.

Saturday 5 April 2014 08:30:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Friday 4 April 2014

A little. Not a lot:

Today: A 20 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 7°C*. Windy, with a south wind 24 to 32 km/h becoming west southwest 40 to 48 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 72 km/h.

So, high winds blowing straight out? Probably won't exactly be a pitchers' duel then.

Photos and details coming after the game.

* Did you know you can hover over these dashed lines to see the Imperial conversions? I've been doing this for years, but not everyone seems to know about the feature. Enjoy.

Friday 4 April 2014 07:43:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Thursday 3 April 2014

And sometimes, it rains. That's the forecast for tomorrow's opening day at Wrigley Field.

So far the Cubs haven't won, though. They're 0-2 for the season, starting their third game at Pittsburgh in just a few minutes.

Stay tuned.

Thursday 3 April 2014 12:34:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Weather#
Wednesday 2 April 2014

It's official: the meteorological winter (December 1 to March 31) that just ended was Chicago's coldest winter in history:

The impressive cold this past winter continued during March...with a monthly average temperature of only -0.2°C for the month. this ranks as the 19th coldest march on record in Chicago. however...of even more interest is the fact that with the abnormally cold March across the area...this made the average temperature for the December through March period in Chicago -5.6°C ...which is the coldest such period on record for Chicago dating back to 1872!

On the other hand, the same period was one of the warmest winters ever globally. Both things are likely related, but we won't know for a while until more data comes in.

Meanwhile, here's the forecast for opening day at Wrigley the day after tomorrow:

A chance of rain and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 8°C. Breezy, with a south wind 25 to 30 km/h becoming southwest 35 to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 60 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

At least our seats are under the awning.

Wednesday 2 April 2014 08:17:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Sunday 30 March 2014

Because of some new tasks related to my job, I haven't been able to post the last couple of days. Today it's 10°C and sunny, and getting warmer, so I have to go outside and play.

There is a chance that today will be the warmest since November 17th. If that happens, I will post again today. If not, I'll just enjoy the weather quietly, to myself.

Sunday 30 March 2014 11:54:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 24 March 2014

Just checking the local news in Chicago a moment ago I see a weather forecast of -2°C and blowing snow for Tuesday, rain for the rest of the week, and a crash at the O'Hare subway station:

Thirty people were injured after a CTA Blue Line train derailed and hit a platform at O'Hare International Airport about 2:55 a.m. Monday.

The injuries are not life threatening, according to early reports from the scene to Chicago Police Department headquarters, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines said.

It's not clear how fast the train was moving but it jumped a bumper at the end of the line and moved up an escalator, according to Chicago Fire Department Spokesman Larry Langford.

The CTA posted to its Twitter page that trains were stopped at O'Hare but running between the Logan Square and Rosemont stops.

Yeah, I'm in a hurry to get back.

Monday 24 March 2014 11:06:17 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Travel | Weather#
Thursday 13 March 2014

Even though we have snow on the ground once again, the sun came out this morning, so my bus stop didn't look as grim as it did yesterday:

Thursday 13 March 2014 09:21:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 12 March 2014

First, we get the worst cold and the most snow of any winter in the last 32 years. It even alienates many of its allies with its stubbornness in the face of popular (and meteorological) opposition, refusing to give up a fight it can't win. Finally, warm weather finally prevails, ending the snow's doomed effort to hold ground it will never be able to keep. This is Monday morning:

Then, just when we were loosening our scarves, Arizona hit this morning:

Winter, you're just making people despise you more. It's the middle of March already. Not only will you be gone and forgotten in two months, but an ENSO event is forming in the Pacific right now, so you won't even be back next season.

Go away, winter. You're obsolete, losing even your friends, and damaging the country.

Wednesday 12 March 2014 08:47:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Weather#
Monday 10 March 2014

Officially, at 1pm today, O'Hare reported no measurable snow on the ground.

And at 2pm, the official Chicago temperature was 11°C, the warmest we've seen since December 4th.

If only they weren't predicting more snow tomorrow...

Monday 10 March 2014 14:05:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

In the hopeless war between spring-like warmth and the ice still covering Chicago, the heat has almost prevailed. Officially at 7am O'Hare had only 25 mm of snow left after an overnight temperature rise to 6°C.

The end is near. Those last few millimeters have no chance of surviving the day, between nearly 12 hours of sunlight and a predicted high of 14°C.

Still, today is the 71st consecutive snow-covered day here. No one under 30 has ever seen this in Chicago before. And it's unlikely anyone ever will again.

You had a good run, winter, but it's over now. Go home.

Monday 10 March 2014 07:26:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

It looks like we're going to go 71 days with snow on the ground before it all melts. But a couple of subtle yet telling things have happened since I last griped.

First, the temperature has gone up since sunset, as forecast. It hasn't gone up a lot, but the influx of warm air from the Gulf of Mexico will continue through tomorrow, to the detriment of all the snowdrifts in Chicago.

It's hard to get your mind around how much heat the atmosphere moves around. A human being can generate about 6-8 megajoules as heat every day. (A food calorie is about 4,200 joules.) Your car or office can generate tens of megajoules to keep you warm. But when an air mass comes up along the Mississippi to Chicago, it's dragging so much energy that we need to review exponents. We're talking about petajoules.

Which brings up the second point. We're not talking about an inch of fluffy ice crystals on a flower. We're actually talking about megatons of ice covering...everything. Not snow; ice.

Take a 10m square of ice just 50 mm thick—meaning just about any square of lawn in the Chicago area right now. So, that's 100 square meters times 50 mm (0.05m), which yields just 5 cubic meters of ice. It turns out, to change just that small amount of ice—oh, wait, that's five tons of ice (do the math)—into water takes 16.5 gigajoules of energy.

Also, when the energy goes into melting ice, it doesn't go anywhere else. I'll hold off on the physics for the moment, except to say that energy can't be created or destroyed, so when it goes into changing the state of a large mass of water without changing its temperature, it's pretty much unavailable for anything else. (Physicists reading this, please be kind; it's close enough.)

This is just a long way of saying: those last millimeters won't go quietly. The last bits of "snow" that the official weather observers measure aren't really snow, they're ice; and ice takes a lot of heat to melt. (Snow is easier to melt because it has so little mass for the same volume.)

Still, if the temperature gets up to its predicted 14°C tomorrow, that's a lot of heat fighting a lot of ice. It might get rid of the official snow cover at the airport, even. And that would leave us with nothing more than the two-meter snowbanks pushed up by all the plows for the last ten weeks. Joy.

Sunday 9 March 2014 22:33:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 9 March 2014

When we got a few centimeters of snow on December 29th, no one expected it would still be on the ground after we changed the clocks in March. Yet there it is, officially 50 mm for the last 24 hours.

The 11am temperature at O'Hare was -0.6°C, and the forecast calls for the temperature to pop up to 7°C this afternoon and then stay above freezing until Tuesday night—possibly even getting up to 14°C tomorrow afternoon. If the little snow we've still got can survive that onslaught, then I will be impressed.

And the best part about this forecast? I won't write anything more about how many consecutive days of snow we've had. You're welcome.

Snow-cover reports come out every six hours. (The next report is due at 1pm.) I'll post as soon as the ground is officially snow-free.

Just one more moan: It's 18°C and sunny in London. But I won't be there for almost two more weeks.

Update: At 1pm the official snow depth was still 50 mm, but the temperature was up to 2°C. I'll check back in six hours.

Sunday 9 March 2014 11:30:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | London | Weather#
Saturday 8 March 2014

Yesterday Chicago got warm enough to melt almost all the snow. We had just 50 mm on the ground at O'Hare (not including the waist-high drifts along all our major streets) when the cold front hit overnight. We woke up this morning to another "dusting" covering every surface of the city, just enough below freezing to make us ask "why?"

The Weather Service promises 12°C on Monday, which should end our 10-week ordeal of boots and salty paws temporarily. But I won't believe we're through winter until we have a solid week of warm weather. And I have no illusions this will happen before the end of May.

Saturday 8 March 2014 14:12:13 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 6 March 2014

We still have snow on the ground, and now we've got a "hostage situation" counter up in our office about it. Sixty eight days ago, Chicago was snow-free. Since December 29th, we've worn boots every day, wiped our dogs' feet every day, squished across streets every day, and squelched down sidewalks every day.

There's a glimmer of hope. The temperature is up to -0.6°C, very nearly freezing. It might even get up to 7°C tomorrow and even stay above freezing for two days early next week.

And yet, we'll still have snow on the ground, possibly until April. Or May.

Enough already.

Thursday 6 March 2014 14:45:09 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 5 March 2014

Just because we've had snow on the ground for 66 days (since December 29th) doesn't mean we didn't all want to see this on our morning commutes today:

We got another 50 mm overnight, on top of the piles already on the ground, and it's not forecast to get above freezing until late tomorrow.

We'd better have a cool frickin' summer or I'm going to write a very strongly-worded letter to the climate.

Update: Today is our 45th measurable snowfall this season—a new record. Yay.

Wednesday 5 March 2014 08:25:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

It's killing invasive insects:

"This winter has been a godsend for the hemlock. Overnight temperatures dipped to minus 15 [Fahrenheit, or -26°C] here in Amherst [Massachusetts], and that’s cold enough to guarantee almost complete adelgid die-off," Joseph Elkington, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the Worcester Telegram.

Elkington says that in some parts of North Carolina, subzero temperatures have killed 100 percent of the adelgids. In Massachusetts, around 80 percent of the population should die, according to a state official. Gypsy moths and emerald ash borers are similarly vulnerable to extreme cold; the U.S. Forest Service estimates that 80 percent of Minnesota’s emerald ash borers died in January. Other invasive insects, such as the southern pine beetle, which has been ravaging New Jersey, and the Asian stinkbug, may be dying off as well.

In fact, this nearly tops the reasons I like living in a temperate climate. Malaria? Not in Chicago, ever. Kudzu? Nope. Emerald ash borers? Die, you green vermin, die.

There's a problem, though:

The cold may also kill off predator insects that forest officials have been releasing to take out invasive insects. For instance, parasitoid wasps that are supposed to control the emerald ash borer population in Michigan and other states are even more vulnerable to the cold than their prey, whose populations might recover more quickly as a result.

Plus, we've had snow on the ground for 65 days now.

So it's not all perfect. But at least the cold has done something useful for us.

Tuesday 4 March 2014 20:25:12 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 4 March 2014

If I have time, I'll read these articles today:

Now, to work.

Tuesday 4 March 2014 08:31:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Cloud | Weather | Windows Azure#
Monday 3 March 2014

The third-worst winter in history ended (meteorologically) on Friday. And yet we woke up this morning to more snow and an overnight low of -19°C.

Even better, today I have to drive out to Suburbistan for a meeting. In the snow. Both ways. Uphill.

The meeting is in about two hours, so I guess I should get going now...

Monday 3 March 2014 07:45:37 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#
Wednesday 26 February 2014

Mother Jones' Climate Desk takes a look at the (actually scientific) argument between climatologists Jennifer Francis and Kevin Trenberth over whether the mid-latitude jet stream is changing permanently, making winters more intense:

Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University, has advanced an influential theory suggesting that winters like this one may be growing more likely to occur. The hypothesis is that by rapidly melting the Arctic, global warming is slowing down the fast-moving river of air far above us known as the jet stream—in turn causing weather patterns to get stuck in place for longer, and leading to more extremes of the sort that we've all been experiencing. "There is a lot of pretty tantalizing evidence that our hypothesis seems to be bearing some fruit," Francis explained on the latest installment of the Inquiring Minds podcast. The current winter is a "perfect example" of the kind of jet stream pattern that her research predicts, Francis added (although she emphasized that no one atmospheric event can be directly blamed on climate change).

Francis's idea has gained rapid celebrity, no doubt because it seems to make sense of our mind-boggling weather. After all, it isn't often that an idea first published less than two years is strongly embraced by the president's science adviser in a widely watched YouTube video. And yet in a letter to the journal Science last week, five leading climate scientists—mainstream researchers who accept a number of other ideas about how global warming is changing the weather, from worsening heat waves to driving heavier rainfall—strongly contested Francis's jet stream claim, calling it "interesting" but contending that "alternative observational analyses and simulations have not confirmed the hypothesis." One of the authors was the highly influential climate researcher Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who also appeared on Inquiring Minds this week alongside Francis to debate the matter.

What's going on here? In climate science, too many of the "debates" that we hear about are fake, trumped up affairs generated by climate skeptics who aim to sow doubt. But that's not the case here: The argument over Francis's work is real, legitimate, and damn interesting to boot. There is, quite simply, a massive amount at stake. The weather touches all of us personally and immediately. Indeed, social scientists have shown that our recent weather experience is a powerful determinant of whether we believe in global warming in the first place. If Francis is right, the very way that we experience global warming will be vastly different than scientists had, until now, foreseen—and perhaps will stay that way for our entire lives.

Skepticism underpins scientific inquiry, so this should be a great and healthy debate. We'll also get more data in the next few years that may support or dispute Francis' position.

Meanwhile, here in Chicago, the temperature plunged overnight to -17°C (also know as "minus fuckall"), and will stay down there at least through next week. This means that for the entire meterological winter season, from December 1 to February 28, Chicago will have had only six low temperatures above freezing, and since January 1st only 5 days above freezing.

Go home, Arctic. You're an asshole.

Wednesday 26 February 2014 11:53:59 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Weather#
Friday 21 February 2014

I was wrong. According to the National Weather Service, Chicago did in fact have an official day entirely above freezing yesterday. The temperature only only got down to 1°C, which turns out to be the warmest night we've had in Chicago since December 4th (4°C).

Spring is right around the corner, and could get here by mid-June even.

Friday 21 February 2014 08:46:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 20 February 2014

The last 24-hour period of above-freezing temperatures in Chicago was back on December 28th. Usually we have multiple stretches above freezing every so often throughout winter. This year, not so much. In fact, since the start of meteorological winter on December 1st, we've only had three, for a total of five days.

Over the last two days we came this close. Sadly, though, the temperature briefly hit 0°C at 9pm yesterday evening, and the forecast calls for not just sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures tonight, but a sustained, week-long period where the temperature stays below freezing.

Really tired of this now.

Thursday 20 February 2014 13:03:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 18 February 2014

After getting another 100 mm of snow last night, today it's warmer than it's been since January 13. The 2pm O'Hare temperature was 6.7°C. If it hits 7.8°C, it will be warmer than any day since December 28th—which was also the last day the temperature did not fall below freezing.

Already the 340 mm of snow on the ground has started to melt. And the storm drains are covered in snow and ice. So we'll all be trading in our snow boots for flippers this time tomorrow.

Update: The 4pm temperature was, in fact, 7.8°C.

Tuesday 18 February 2014 14:17:05 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 17 February 2014

In the last hour, we've gotten another 25 mm of snow, with more on the way:

The initial stages of snowfall will come in bands this morning (check weather radar pic above) – moving from southwest to northeast. A few locations are observing a mix of snow and sleet and this will continue on and off for the next couple hours, but the precipitation will change over to all snow and increase in intensity late morning and afternoon. Homewood in Cook County reported an inch of snow in an hour with a mix of sleet. Below is the 9AM CST visibility map depicting the variability of snowfall across the Chicago area.

A band of light to moderate snow is moving though the area this morning and could drop a quick inch of snow in many locations. This band will end and there will be a break before the main area of heavy snow arrives later this morning. Winter storm warnings are in effect and snowfall totals of 100-200 mm are expected before the system moves out this evening.

The original prediction called for just 25-50 mm; apparently the snow got excited.

Meteorological winter ends in just 11 days. Actual winter may last longer.

Monday 17 February 2014 11:39:02 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 15 February 2014

The Great Lakes have more ice cover than at any point in the last 20 years. Here's the view on the flight in last Monday morning:

If you don't mind a 150 MB download, NASA took a photo of the Great Lakes (and, incidentially, me) at almost that exact moment. The ice today (also 150 MB) looks about the same.

Saturday 15 February 2014 17:45:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Weather#
Friday 14 February 2014

Yesterday, Chicago Midway Airport recorded a high temperature of 1.1°C, the first time it has seen a temperature above freezing in 15 days.

Unfortunately for our weather records, O'Hare is our official station, and it only got to 0°C yesterday. So officially we still have not had a day above freezing since January 30th, with a forecast for continued below-freezing weather through Monday at least.

Plus, we've had measurable snow on the ground for 47 days now, and we're all frankly sick of it. That's why we're looking forward to next Thursday, when the predicted high of 10°C will quickly change our thick blanket of snow into a cold lake of slush. At least it will be warmer.

Friday 14 February 2014 09:36:14 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Search
On this page....
Before I get in my canoe for work today...
And the rain crashed down
So now Hank Paulson is a Democrat?
Why am I inside?
Not change I can believe in
March here, July in San Francisco?
Another list of things to read
How bad was winter?
Weather update
National Climate Assessment released
21st-century weather data
The 400
Still March in Chicago
Spring was here, briefly
Cool time at Wrigley
Happy Birthday, Wrigley Field
Going outside to play
NO! I FORBID THIS!
Spot the cold front
Oh, you mean this cold front
Almost spring, until tonight
Y ahora, El Niño
Opening Day 2014
Looking a little better for the opener
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose
Coldest. Winter. Ever. (But only in Chicago.)
Fewer blog postings? Must be spring
Can't wait to get home
A little less ugly
How Chicago weather is like the Republican party
It's over. Winter lost. Finally.
The rear-guard action still holds ground
Ice is denser than snow
Ten weeks later
Snowy hell, day 69
Day 67 of snowy hell
Wow, we needed this
The silver frozen lining to the polar vortex
Morning link round-up
Must be spring
About this blog (v 4.2)
Go home, Arctic. You're drunk
24 hours above freezing
Almost, but not quite, completely above freezing
Make it snow for 40 days and 40 nights and wait for the sewers to back up
Welcome to Narnia (the early days)
Chicago avec la glace
More whining
Countdowns
The Daily Parker +3172d 19h 36m
My next birthday 44d 15h 54m
Parker's 9th birthday 328d 17h 37m
Categories
Aviation (317) Baseball (104) Best Bars (4) Biking (43) Chicago (861) Cubs (192) Duke (132) Geography (308) Higher Ground (5) Jokes (282) Kitchen Sink (608) London (39) Parker (184) Daily (204) Photography (139) Politics (302) US (1047) World (239) Raleigh (20) Readings (8) Religion (62) San Francisco (83) Software (196) Blogs (71) Business (221) Cloud (88) Cool links (128) Security (98) Travel (161) Weather (669) Astronomy (76) Windows Azure (58) Work (36) Writing (8)
Links
Archive
<July 2014>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
293012345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
272829303112
3456789
Full archive
Blogroll
About
David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
Legal
All content Copyright ©2014 David Braverman.
Creative Commons License
The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
Admin Login
Sign In
Blog Stats
Total Posts: 4393
This Year: 291
This Month: 30
This Week: 3
Comments: 0