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Friday 21 August 2015

Yesterday I mentioned that the extreme El Niño underway in the Pacific right now is making long-range climate predictions a little easier. Also yesterday, the Climate Prediction Center released their December—February Outlook:

The NWS Climate Prediction Center released their latest seasonal forecasts today. Here are the results for Illinois. The biggest news is that Illinois has an increased chance of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the winter months of December, January, and February. This forecast is based largely on the developing El Niño in the Pacific Ocean.

While the forecast of a milder winter may sound appealing, I would not leave the winter coat in the closet and throw away the snow shovel just yet. Two things to consider are: 1) this is not a 100% guarantee, other factors come into play in determining our winter weather, and 2) even a mild winter can contain short periods of intense cold and abundant snowfall.

In other words, prepare for a warm winter, but don't forget it's still winter.

Friday 21 August 2015 11:09:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#
Thursday 20 August 2015

CityLab and Slate are sharing an article today about how the warm Pacific surface temperatures are helping climatologists—because they're so extreme:

Now that the event is in full swing, we have an even better idea of how U.S. weather will be affected over the next nine months. That’s because El Niño acts like a heat engine that bends weather in a predictable pattern worldwide. Typically, the stronger El Niño is, the more predictable its influence. And this year’s event is on pace to be one of the strongest ever recorded. By some measures, it already is.

Globally, it’s now virtually certain that 2015 will be the hottest year in history. That’s a pretty remarkable thing to be able to say with more than four months of the year remaining. Last week data from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency confirmed that last month was the hottest July on record, joining every month so far this year except February and April as the warmest ever measured, according to calculations from Japan. As of mid-August, the Pacific Ocean had configured itself into an unprecedented temperature pattern, with record-setting warm water stretching from the equator all the way northward to Alaska. Thanks to the pattern’s expected persistence, we can already piece together a pretty good guess of the implications—months ahead of time.

So look forward to a mild winter here in the Midwest, tons of rain (but not enough overall) in the drought-stricken Southwest, and tons of snow in the Northeast. Maybe.

Thursday 20 August 2015 11:34:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#

Crain's reported this morning that the MacArthur Foundation has started making grants to help curb climate change:

Initial grants will help continue and accelerate U.S. greenhouse gas reductions, increase and sustain U.S. political consensus for climate action, and provide incentives for a low-carbon economy. The climate initiative is the second big bet MacArthur has announced in pursuit of transformative change in areas of profound concern; the first was a $75 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses its jails.

MacArthur’s initial $50 million investment in 2015 includes both unrestricted general operating support and specific project grants.

So far the money is going to the usual suspects (Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy), and it can only help. I would like to see other large organizations start making these kinds of grants; in particular, insurance companies, who have a financial stake in fighting anthropogenic climate change.

Thursday 20 August 2015 11:14:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Weather#
Monday 17 August 2015

Another consequence to a four-hour drive and lots of household chores yesterday was my first Fitbit goal miss since June 6th. I only got 8,000 steps yesterday, after exceeding 10,000 steps for the last 71 days straight. It was also the fewest steps I've gotten since May 29th. I traveled on all three days, which explains the correlation: lots of sitting in vehicles and not a lot of opportunity to move.

It didn't help that the temperature has hovered around 32°C for the past few days, forecast to cool off tomorrow or Wednesday.

Still, I hate missing goals, even arbitrary ones like this. Fortunately, since June 6th, I've averaged around 14,000 steps per day, so one day under 10,000 won't defeat my fitness plan.

Monday 17 August 2015 14:25:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Travel | Weather#
Monday 10 August 2015

Problem: my keyboard suddenly wouldn't respond to the left-shift, enter, 3 or F5 keys. No idea why this is. Tested with mskey.exe, tested on another machine...still those four keys aren't working.

Solution: Get a new keyboard. Walk 10 minutes to Staples, find the same make and model, buy it, return to office.

New problem: New keyboard's spacebar is broken.

When I say "rinse and repeat" I mean that when heading back from Staples—this is the Chicago Loop, so one walks everywhere—it started to rain. Which is good, because the dewpoint is about infinity.

Now I'm cranky, damp, hot, and tired (which was a pre-existing condition today), and unproductive.

Waaah.

Monday 10 August 2015 15:59:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather | Work#
Sunday 9 August 2015

The three-month period ending July 31st was the wettest in Illinois history:

Illinois experienced its wettest May – July on record with 500 mm of precipitation, 200 mm above the 20th century average, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. Most of that was due to the record precipitation of June with 240 mm statewide, based on their latest numbers and discussed in more detail here.

That is about an extra two months of precipitation during that three-month period.

Factors include the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge out west and possibly the incipient El Niño taking hold in the Eastern Pacific.

Sunday 9 August 2015 09:35:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 5 August 2015

While eating lunch, I read this cheerful article from Rolling Stone:

Thanks to the pressure we're putting on the planet's ecosystem — warming, acidification and good old-fashioned pollution — the oceans are set up for several decades of rapid change. Here's what could happen next.

The combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff, abnormal wind patterns and the warming oceans is already creating seasonal dead zones in coastal regions when algae blooms suck up most of the available oxygen. ...

These low-oxygen regions could gradually expand in size — potentially thousands of miles across — which would force fish, whales, pretty much everything upward. If this were to occur, large sections of the temperate deep oceans would suffer should the oxygen-free layer grow so pronounced that it stratifies, pushing surface ocean warming into overdrive and hindering upwelling of cooler, nutrient-rich deeper water.

Enhanced evaporation from the warmer oceans will create heavier downpours, perhaps destabilizing the root systems of forests, and accelerated runoff will pour more excess nutrients into coastal areas, further enhancing dead zones. ...

Evidence for the above scenario comes in large part from our best understanding of what happened 250 million years ago, during the "Great Dying," when more than 90 percent of all oceanic species perished after a pulse of carbon dioxide and methane from land-based sources began a period of profound climate change. The conditions that triggered "Great Dying" took hundreds of thousands of years to develop. But humans have been emitting carbon dioxide at a much quicker rate, so the current mass extinction only took 100 years or so to kick-start.

Good thing we don't eat plankton, because there won't be much left in a few decades.

Oh, wait...

Wednesday 5 August 2015 13:21:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World | Weather#
Wednesday 29 July 2015

We're well into our fourth day in five above 30°C, but around lunchtime a front passed that dropped the dewpoint from 22°C to 9°C. What a difference. It's still hot, but at least it's not so sticky. Walking home from trivia last night I practically swam through 25°C air with a 23°C dewpoint and lost two belt sizes along the way.

The Climate Prediction Center guesses that August will be cooler than normal, as will September and October. And I guess one week of every year we just have to take the heat. Today's dewpoint drop is very nice, though. It almost makes me want to spend more time outside. Maybe by October...

Wednesday 29 July 2015 15:32:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 24 July 2015

So far Chicago has had a milder-than-normal summer, with only a couple of over-32°C days and a lot of rain. Given our greenhouse gas emissions, that will change:

The NASA climate projections offer a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provided daily records and estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe. It integrates actual measurements from around the world with data from climate simulations created by the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, or CMIP, which is a standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.

The result? Pretty warm:

I won't be around to experience an average annual temperature around 30°C. Unfortunately, given the effects of climate change on our food and water supplies, not many others might be either.

Friday 24 July 2015 12:20:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | World | Weather#
Thursday 23 July 2015

Tomorrow afternoon I'm flying to Phoenix to visit Park #26. Fortunately, Chase Field is air-conditioned, because the forecast calls for 38°C at game time after a high temperature of 41°C earlier in the day.

Photos and a frank assessment of the weather conditions to follow this weekend.

Thursday 23 July 2015 16:57:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Weather#

Jeff Skilling at the Chicago Tribune updates us on the equatorial Pacific:

The current El Nino comes together against a backdrop of warming oceans and oceans which are growing more acidic as they observe mass quantities of CO2 produced through the burning of fossil fuels and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere this produces. More on the rate at which the planet’s oceans are warming here. It’s estimated that the warming which has taken place in the world’s oceans since 1990 is the equivalent of having exploded 5 Hiroshima strength nuclear bombs in the our planet’s oceans every second over the 25 year period. The warming oceans may be impacting the strength of the current El Niño. For more, click here.

What can we expect in the next few months? Most likely, increased precipitation in California, heavier than normal precipitation this fall and winter in the South, and a milder winter here in the midwest. However, with the ridiculously resilient ridge over the western U.S. and Canada, this year's El Niño could be completely different. Can't wait to find out.

Thursday 23 July 2015 16:51:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Tuesday 21 July 2015

Stuff I found on the Interwebs this week:

That's all for now.

Tuesday 21 July 2015 13:32:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | US | World | Weather#
Wednesday 8 July 2015

Yes, Illinois was #1 in rainfall last month, making us the wettest state in the country:

The National Centers for Environmental Information (formerly NCDC) released their numbers for June, showing that Illinois did indeed have its wettest June on record with 236.2 mm (according to their calculations). That made Illinois the wettest state** in the US for the month.

**There are no statewide records for Hawaii. However, an examination of the four main sites in Hawaii indicate June totals that are far less than 9.3 inches.

Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all had their wettest months in the 121-year record; Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and New Hampshire had top-5 wettest months ever.

The weather patterns causing all this rain, by the way, are related to global warming, and similar to the patterns causing frequent polar vortices in the eastern U.S. Welcome to the future!

Wednesday 8 July 2015 16:55:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 5 July 2015

The weather's perfect, there are holiday parties, and possibly some hiking. So not much blogging this weekend. There was also a small Ribfest nearby, but aside from Rod Tuffcurls & the Bench Presses, kind of disappointing (especially the vendor who ran out of ribs).

More later as circumstances warrant.

Sunday 5 July 2015 09:12:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Wednesday 1 July 2015

As feared, last month was the wettest June on record in Illinois, and the second-wettest month of all time:

The statewide average precipitation for June 2015 in Illinois was 242.1 mm, based on available data through June 30. That is 135.4 mm above the average June precipitation, and the wettest June on record for Illinois.

In addition to being the wettest June on record, it is the second wettest month on record for Illinois. Only September 1926 was wetter at 244.4 mm – just 2.3 mm higher.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, it was the cloudiest June in all 122 years of records, in part because we're covered in Canadian wildfire smoke making everything a little hazy.

On the other hand, it got up to 35°C in London today—and they don't generally have air conditioning over there. Yow.

Wednesday 1 July 2015 14:04:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | London | Weather#
Monday 29 June 2015

People in Los Angeles talk about the "June Gloom," a common weather pattern that makes L.A. weather gloomy in the late spring. We don't typically have this phenomenon in Chicago. This month, however, is the gloomiest June ever here, with only 45.7% of possible sunshine through yesterday, and clouds today and predicted for tomorrow.

This month is already the fourth wettest month in Illinois history (and the wettest June in state history) with statewide average precipitation of 227.8 mm through Saturday. Much of the state is having more rain today, so it's reasonably likely that June 2015 will end as the second-wettest month in state history. We'll find out Thursday or next Monday when all the figures are in.

We Chicagoans are used to changing weather, and to some degree we enjoy it. We really dislike persistent stretches of unpleasant weather. Let's hope the weather changes in a few days. We're tired of the clouds and rain.

Monday 29 June 2015 14:10:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 23 June 2015

The unpacking continues, but I still have too many boxes cluttering up the place:

It is, however, a gorgeous day, and my office window is open to this:

My goals are (a) do my work instead of going for a long walk in the perfect weather, and (b) finish unpacking my living room tonight. I may succeed in both. Updates as conditions warrant.

Tuesday 23 June 2015 09:37:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 19 June 2015

Weather? Check. Photography? Check. The dog? Nope. The National Weather Service photo contest winners are very cool, though.

Friday 19 June 2015 13:50:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Weather#
Tuesday 16 June 2015

When the movers arrived at the former Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters yesterday morning, they remarked that it looked like I had everything organized well and they would hit their estimate. Mother Nature disagreed, giving us drenching rains that halted loading the truck for half an hour, and following up with this when we unloaded:

[T]he weather service issued a tornado warning for parts of central Cook County, activating sirens throughout Chicago, but no touchdowns were reported. That warning expired at 5:15 p.m. after the storm moved over Hillside and Westchester and weakened as it moved east.

A spotter at Midway International Airport reported seeing a funnel cloud about a mile east of the airport, heading east. There also was a report of a funnel cloud forming south of Millennium Park about 5:20 p.m., according to weather service meteorologist Bill Nelson.

I may have video at some point, and I still have some Italy photos to put up. And today, of course, is Parker's birthday, so I'll try to get a birthday portrait this evening.

Now I have to catch up on work.

Tuesday 16 June 2015 09:46:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 17 May 2015

A pile of Gulf moisture has arrived in Chicago making the otherwise-comfortable 22°C feel like a sauna. I'm using the day to do some planning for my next trip (11 days, 22 hours!) and move (28 days, 22 hours!), client work, and taking Parker to an interview of sorts at a new daycare facility. Yes, an interview: he has to play with the other dogs for two hours so they can decide whether to allow him to come back. I hope he passes.

Results from that, as well as a probably thunderstorm (unrelated), later today.

Sunday 17 May 2015 10:35:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Thursday 14 May 2015

Fortunately, I have a couple of long flights coming up in two weeks. Unfortunately, not all of this will be relevant then:

Tonight I'm taking a short break to go to the Wait! Wait! Don't tell me taping, which is conveniently located two blocks from my office. And tomorrow I might have some time to think.

Thursday 14 May 2015 16:19:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Cool links | Weather#
Tuesday 12 May 2015

First, because NASA's reputation is such that climate-change deniers have difficulty refuting the agency, Republicans in Congress are trying to get NASA out of the discussion:

As has been widely reported, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee recently approved a bill that would cut at least $300 million from NASA's earth-science budget. This comes after the head of the Senate committee overseeing NASA claimed the agency should stop doing earth-science and focus only on space exploration.

Honestly, when it comes to getting the science of climate change right, who are you going to believe? A radio talk show host or NASA? The angry denialists in the comments section of this blog or NASA? The politician who says, "Well, I am not a scientist" or the scientists at NASA?

Then, closer to home, a group of residents in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood really don't want a Whole Foods Market in their back yards:

The grocery giant's current Lakeview store, at 3300 N. Ashland Ave. opened in 1996 and is 31,500 square-foot—a speck compared to the labyrinthine, 79,000 square-foot Whole Foods located near North Avenue. That is why the company plans on opening up a 75,000 square-foot store one block away, at 3201 N. Ashland Ave. The building will feature 300 parking spots on the first floor and the basement, and a full store on the second story.

Speaking for the Melrose Street Concerned Residents, Tricey Morelli summed up the fears of the locals:

"Subconsciously, you see a big building like this and there's no windows into the building, so it makes you think, like, 'Why aren't there windows on the main floor? Are they fearful that someone's going to bash the windows? Is there going to be crime?' It kind of almost makes it look a little bit like a mean street."

This woman is speaking about a Whole Foods store in Lakeview, which has us confused. Are there roving bands of recent college graduates and moms with strollers running around, smashing windows and defacing property? We certainly can't discount the possibility.

I really don't understand what it's like going through life afraid of fantasies...

Tuesday 12 May 2015 14:21:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Weather | Astronomy#
Monday 4 May 2015

Yesterday's forecast didn't pan out exactly as plans. Afternoon rains held the temperature down to 26°C, so rather than being the warmest day since September 29th (28°C), it was the warmest day since...April 17th.

Today it's just soggy, and we're about to get a cold front. So I'm going to dash over to the nearest Whole Foods for lunch to make sure I get my steps in.

As for the concert, well, we sounded better than we did on Friday, but there were more people on stage than in the audience. That's one of the hazards of performing in Suburbistan. Our next concert is November 8th in Chicago, where we'll probably have much better turnout.

Monday 4 May 2015 11:59:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 3 May 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, we finally have a late-spring weekend in Chicago. It got up to 24°C officially at O'Hare yesterday; today's forecast high is 27°C.

Parker got a 3=hour, 12.5 km walk, while I managed 26,000 steps and 21.4 km of my own. And we just got back from another 5,000-step walk before he gets to do his second-favorite activity: a Ride in the Car!

Apollo's final concert of the season is this afternoon, too. I'm kind of sad not to see the chorus again until rehearsals resume mid-September. But there's a lot going on this summer, including moving IDTWHQ. Stay tuned.

Sunday 3 May 2015 09:15:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Saturday 2 May 2015

Blogging might be spotty this weekend. After last night's concert, a group of us from the chorus went out and stayed out. Fortunately none of us seems to have any real responsibilities today.

Even better, the forecast calls for the warmest day of 2015 so far on Sunday, when we expect 27°C. That would also be the warmest temperature since September 29th.

So Parker and I may spend a good bit of time outside. Possibly I'll break last week's Fitbit record. Or possibly I'll just take a nap...

Saturday 2 May 2015 09:00:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 1 May 2015

It's 15°C and sunny outside; why am I inside? Right. Work.

I did get a 5 km walk this morning, but somehow I think I'll need more steps today. The nearest Whole Foods is 1500 m away, for example. I feel a walking lunch coming on.

Still, though. Work.

Friday 1 May 2015 10:05:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 26 April 2015

After seeing Carousel yesterday, I'm going to take advantage of really gorgeous weather today. Parker will also benefit. Updates as the situation warrants.

Sunday 26 April 2015 09:26:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 17 April 2015

...and also preparing for a fundraiser at which I'm performing tomorrow:

And did I mention Apollo After Hours?

Thursday 16 April 2015 20:31:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Photography | Software | Blogs | Weather | Windows Azure | Work#
Monday 6 April 2015

Parker and I walked about 10½ km yesterday, resulting in plenty of sleep and (probably) sore paws for both of us. We also got caught in a pneumonia front, in which late-afternoon cooling stops driving a land breeze and allows denser, cooler air from the lake to spread outward over the shore. Temperatures dropped from 18°C to 9°C in twenty minutes—unfortunately, the 20 minutes coinciding from our farthest distance from home. This bothered Parker a lot less than it bothered me, owing to his two fur coats, but fortunately I had an extra layer available. And I walk fast.

I also stayed away from Opening Night at Wrigley, the first regular game of the baseball season, in which the Cubs got their asses handed to them by the Cardinals 3-0. (They went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, too. Great work, guys.) The New York Times called the game "beginning their 107th year of waiting for a World Series title." Sounds about right.

Monday 6 April 2015 08:40:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Parker | Weather#
Saturday 4 April 2015

It's not a bad morning in Chicago:

Saturday 4 April 2015 10:22:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 30 March 2015

At least there isn't any more snow:

Monday 30 March 2015 16:56:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 23 March 2015

The northern hemisphere's first full day of astronomical spring was Saturday. Yesterday, this is what it looked like in Chicago:

And here's this morning:

And, more than likely, it'll be sunny and warm on Wednesday. The snow on the ground this afternoon should be gone by then.

Chicago weather certainly builds character.

Monday 23 March 2015 14:23:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 19 March 2015

The National Aeronautical and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported today that the climatalogical winter of December 2014 through February 2015 was the warmest on record, despite what happened in the eastern United States and Canada:

During December–February, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.42°F (0.79°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.05°F (0.03°C).

During December–February, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.63°F (1.46°C) above the 20th century average. This tied with 2007 as the highest for December–February in the 1880–2015 record.

Even with record cold from Maine to Alabama, it was the 19th warmest winter in the Lower 48—in part because five states in the west experienced record heat and six more got into the 90th percentile.

Thursday 19 March 2015 09:45:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Weather#
Tuesday 17 March 2015

Yesterday evening when I walked to rehearsal the temperature in Chicago was 22°C. Four hours later it was 8°C, and it fell to 2°C by sunrise.

This is what we call a "pneumonia front," especially when this sort of thing happens mid-day. People go to work or school dressed for warm weather and catch pneumonia on the way home.

Add to that the 46 km/h wind gusts out of the north and it's a banner spring morning here in Chicago.

Sláinte!

Tuesday 17 March 2015 11:19:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 16 March 2015

Anthropogenic climate change may have permanently destabilized both the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets, meaning the planet could experience 3.3 to 4.3 meter sea-level rises in the next few centuries. And even better, gravity will push more towards North America than towards anyplace else:

In the event of a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, scientists have determined that the United States will receive moresea level rise than almost any other part of the world. (Granted, so will other countries in North America, like Canada and Mexico, which have considerably less global warming responsibility.)

In this case, West Antarctica is so large that it pulls the global ocean toward it, which slopes upward toward the ice sheet and the Antarctic continent in general. But if West Antarctica were to lose a substantial part of its ice, then the gravitational pull would relax, and sea level would actually decrease near the ice sheet even as it spreads and increases across the global ocean.

But not evenly. Instead, areas farther from West Antarctica would get more sea level rise, and North America and the United States might get more than any other inhabited place on Earth. “The water that had been held close to West Antarctica spreads out across the ocean,” explains Penn State glaciologist Richard Alley, “and we’re far enough away that we weren’t in the ‘pile’ that was held close to West Antarctica when the ice sheet was there and its gravity attracted the water to make the pile, but we get our share of the water from that pile when it spreads out.”

So possibly, a couple centuries from now, there will be an enormous dam protecting the Long Island Sound from the Atlantic, and Florida will be an artificial island somewhere near Miami. Good work, humans.

Monday 16 March 2015 15:53:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World | Weather#
Sunday 15 March 2015

Apparently my last four weekends have been pretty busy. Once again I have almost no time to post anything, not least because it's sunny and 13°C, so Parker and I are getting ready to go hiking.

So here's a listicle. Generally I hate them, but this one from Inc. listing frequently-misused cliché phrases made me point to my screen and shout "yes, that!"

11. Baited breath
The term "bated" is an adjective meaning suspense. It originated from the verb "abate," meaning to stop or lessen. Therefore, "to wait with bated breath" essentially means to hold your breath with anticipation. The verb "bait," on the other hand, means to taunt, often to taunt a predator with its prey. A fisherman baits his line in hopes of a big catch. Considering the meaning of the two words, it's clear which is correct, but the word "bated" is mostly obsolete today, leading to the ever-increasing mistake in this expression.

I'm waiting with bated breath for the next bit of list bait to cross my Facebook feed...

Sunday 15 March 2015 12:03:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather | Writing#
Friday 13 March 2015

I'm in my office, looking outside at the sunny 15°C day and—oh, dear, I must be coming down with something, perhaps I should go home and rest?

Chicago was last this warm on November 10th, when it got up to 17°C. That was four months ago. Four. Months. One hundred twenty-three days.

*cough*

Yep, definitely too sick to stay in the office now...

Friday 13 March 2015 13:41:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 11 March 2015

Rebecca Leber at New Republic states the obvious:

The phrase, “believe in climate change” returns almost a quarter-million Google results. As McCarthy said, science is neither a faith nor a religion, yet the term belief pervades media and politics. Why do advocates so consistently play along with the climate-change-denier narrative?

Conservatives have long drawn comparisons between climate change science and a fervent religion. A 2013 National Review column articulated the parallels thus: “Religion has ritual. Global-warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations. Some religions persecute heretics. Some global-warming alarmists identify ‘denialists’ and liken them to Holocaust deniers.”

Leber makes good points, but it's not a great article. I'm posting it because I agree with her main point, and also because it's an example of the slide in quality at TNR since they destroyed their editorial board.

Wednesday 11 March 2015 13:35:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Weather | Writing#
Tuesday 10 March 2015

Business lunch, business dinner, 8:30am call, 1:30pm call—and right now, six minutes to click "Send to Kindle:"

Time to get some water, plug in my Fitbit, and prep for my 1:30 call.

Tuesday 10 March 2015 12:58:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | US | Business | Weather | Work#
Friday 6 March 2015

Following up on the previous post, this is what my bus stop looked like at 7:45 this morning:

Yes, it's pretty, but we're really over it already.

Friday 6 March 2015 12:59:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Tom Skilling started his Explainer column today by depressing the hell out of me:

Chicagoans haven’t seen a temp above 8°C since late December. And a reading of 12°C or higher has been a no-show here since Nov 11th when the mercury last made it to 14°C. As if that’s not been bad enough, the city’s sat beneath a cover of snow that’s been at least 125 mm deep since Feb. 1—a run which moves into a 34th consecutive day Friday. Thursday’s bone-chilling and unseasonable -9°C high–a reading 14°C below normal and just 2°C shy of tying a 1901 record for max temp—only poured salt in the wound. It qualified as the coldest March 5th daytime high in 114-years. And, following Thursday morning’s lead, overnight temps [dipped] to sub-zero [Fahrenheit] levels over much of the metro area away from Lake Michigan one last time in the current cold siege–an arctic blast which has produced significantly below-normal temps for 22 consecutive days.

Yes, this has been our third really bad winter in five years. But it is March, so something has to change eventually right? Right:

[B]eyond this weekend and barring unforeseen changes going forward—the sudden appearance of a Chicago-bound backdoor cold front capable of turning winds off Lake Michigan’s icy waters would be an example—the area is in for one impressive warm-up by Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. It doesn’t signal that cold air or snow is completely finished for the season—history shows the area has been vulnerable to snows of some substance into April in some years— but it sure marks a major step in the transition from winter the the warmer days of spring.

How much warmer? Estimates by the four major weather models range from 28°C to—no kidding—41°C warmer than last night's -18°C low. Given that the lake is mostly frozen and we still have 125 mm of snow on the ground, the current forecast for The Daily Parker predicts 10°C on Tuesday and 12°C on Wednesday—warm enough to walk to work. And with above-freezing temperatures predicted from tomorrow forward, all that snow should melt.

Stay tuned.

Friday 6 March 2015 10:37:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 4 March 2015

On only six occasions in recorded history has Chicago experienced a temperature below -18°C in March.Tonight could be the 7th:

A sub-0 reading at O’Hare by daybreak Thursday would be the latest a low temp has dropped below 0 [Fahrenheit] here in the 33 years—–since 1982. The -19°C reading being predicted is hardly a common occurrence so late in a cold season. In fact, of Chicago’s 1,041 sub-0 readings in 144 years of official temp records, only 6 have occurred beyond March 5th (Thursday’s date). And on a broader scale, only 12 of the 144 Marches on the books since official records began here in 1871 have managed one or more sub-zero temps.

But:

Daytime highs could register as much as 28°C warmer in a week

What’s to happen in the wake of the frigid late-season chill of the next two days is the most significant pattern change across North America since December. Major warming is projected. The pace of the warming will depend on the speed with which snow melts and on wind direction, since any “easterly” winds at this time of year deliver a very chilly brand of air off ice-cluttered Lake Michigan.

Oh, and we've had snow on the ground now for 34 days straight, which isn't a record but is unusual this late in the year. It's not the snow on the ground I find objectionable, either; it's having to keep a pair of shoes at the office and clomping to work wearing boots every day. I hope next week's warm-up finishes that phase of the year.

Wednesday 4 March 2015 08:57:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 2 March 2015

Posting might be a bit slower than normal this week given three full rehearsals in advance of our concert at Rockefeller Chapel on Saturday.

Also, we're pretty much sick of the weather here. February tied with 1875 for the coldest ever, at -9.7°C, and third-snowiest, with 681 mm. That last comes with a star as this was one of only 6 Februaries in history in which we had snow on the ground for the whole month.

Oh, and the forecast through our concert calls for significantly below-average temperatures until Sunday, except for Tuesday, when we'll have freezing rain and snow. Yum.

Monday 2 March 2015 09:35:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 27 February 2015

Depending on tomorrow's weather, this month might be the coldest February in Chicago history:

As of Friday morning, the average temperature for the month was -9.33°C, surpassing the average of -9.27°C in 1936 that is currently ranked the second coldest February, according to the National Weather Service.

Could Chicago see its coldest February ever? That record, an average of -9.67°C, was set way back in 1875.

Oh, and:

This month currently ranks as the third snowiest February on record with 671 mm recorded at O'Hare International Airport. The second snowiest February was back in 1896 with 706 mm, according to the weather service.

We're overjoyed, really, this is a great honor.

Friday 27 February 2015 11:44:45 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 25 February 2015

This morning's -10°C temperatures weren't that much better than yesterday's, but it still felt warmer, maybe because we got all the way up to -2°C by 6pm.

The sun may also have helped:

More cold coming. Spring, too, should be here in a couple of weeks months.

Wednesday 25 February 2015 09:16:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 24 February 2015

The temperature in Chicago hasn't gone above freezing for 12 days, and got down to -20°C only last night. So right now, at -2°C, and with the sun out, it feels positively tropical.

Unfortunately, the forecast doesn't show us actually getting above-freezing temperatures as far out as it goes. Medium-term forecasts also show below-normal temperatures all the way out through mid-March. And in the latest bit of good news, the Great Lakes are almost 86% covered in ice, close to the record of 94.7% set in 1979. For perspective, a year ago the lakes got up 93% coverage and the last ice didn't completely melt until June 12th.

So, we could be in for another chilly spring and cool summer, followed by (one hopes) a mild autumn, just like last year.

And because warmer temperatures to the west of us seem to have caused this pattern to emerge both last year and this year, it could become a permanent feature of north-eastern North America's climate.

Tuesday 24 February 2015 16:24:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Between rehearsals, work, and life, I haven't had a lot of time during the day to goof off keep abreast of world developments. So here's what got sent to my Kindle just today:

Also, if you live in Chicago, go vote today.

Tuesday 24 February 2015 10:07:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US | World | Weather#
Friday 20 February 2015

Yesterday was 17°C below normal in Chicago, the 8th consecutive day of frigid temperatures here, including a new record low maximum yesterday of -16°C. And while 19 states had record lows yesterday, western states are baking:

"Winter seems to have completely forgotten about us out here," Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University, told the Associated Press. "If we could find a way of sending [the Northeast] snow out here, we'd really, really appreciate that."

- Las Vegas [had a] record high of 26°C, and Reno had its warmest Valentine's Day on record (as well as a record high) when the thermometer hit 23°C. Salt Lake City (16°C) and Pocatello, Idaho (13°C) broke their daily high temperature records on Valentine's Day as well.

- Phoenix has seen high temperatures in the 80s [Fahrenheit] since Feb. 5, with the exception of one Thursday which recorded a high of 26°C.

Thank a meandering jet stream and a strong polar vortex over eastern Canada, which sounds familiar. The vortex is forecast to hang around through next week. Add frozen Great Lakes and we could have a very cool spring.

Friday 20 February 2015 10:53:25 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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