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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#
Thursday 19 February 2015

...and we had record cold this morning:

Around daybreak, the temperature at O'Hare International Airport dropped to -22°C, beating the record of -21°C for this date set in 1936. Winds from the northwest at 15-25 km/h made it feel like -30 to -35°C, and a wind chill advisory remained in effect until noon.

The coldest places this morning included -25°C in Aurora, Harvard and Island Lake, -24.4°C in DeKalb and -23.9°C in Mundelein, Union, Waukegan and West Chicago. Wind chills ranged from -33°C in Fox Lake and Wilmette to -36°C in DeKalb.

A brief return to normal this weekend (albeit with some snowfall) will precede another arctic blast next week. When meteorological spring begins on March 1st, we'll still be running 6°C below normal.

This is not helping my Fitbit numbers.

It's also worth noting that, on this day in 1847, rescuers reached the Donner Party. So it could be worse...

Thursday 19 February 2015 11:18:36 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 18 February 2015

Yesterday I found out that Weather Now, my demonstration app, got a mention on local TV in New Hampshire. Apparently it's now in newspapers as well.

Are the mentions driving traffic? Hard to tell. According to Google Analytics, the site had 1,957 unique visitors on Monday against an average of around 400. Yesterday that number fell to 760. But for the three days ending yesterday, 18% of the site's visitors came from New Hampshire and another 23% from Massachusetts and New York. So it is getting picked up.

But is anyone clicking the Donate button? Sadly, no.

(The donate link works for The Daily Parker, too. Hint, hint.)

Wednesday 18 February 2015 10:36:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Weather#
Tuesday 17 February 2015

Local Manchester, N.H., television station WMUR mentioned my weather application on the news last night:

There was only one place in the world colder than Mount Washington this morning: the south pole. The weather website wx now.com says the summit's temperature of 35 degrees below zero early this morning was the second coldest reported temperature on the entire planet.

I can't wait to see the Google analytics.

Tuesday 17 February 2015 13:50:19 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Weather#

Oh, joy. Tomorrow night into next week, Chicago could set some cold-weather records for the month of February:

Daytime highs Wednesday and Thursday are predicted to reach no higher than single digits [Fahrenheit] over much of the area–a rare development this late in a cold season. Just how rare?? There have been a grand total of 17 single digit daytime highs beyond Feb. 17 over the past 144 years which averages out to JUST ONE single digit high beyond Feb 17th per decade!

The chill’s not going away anytime soon. Were sub-freezing temps to hold the remaining 11 days of February–something which looks plausible at this distance—Feb 2015 could be in line to add another record to its lineup. Never, in the 144 years of official records here, has a February moved from the 17th to its conclusion having no generated freezing or above daytime highs.

The record low temperature for February is -29°C set 9th February 1899. We're in no danger of breaking that. But 17th February 1903 got down to -24°C, about Thursday night's forecast low.

Can't wait.

Tuesday 17 February 2015 12:13:14 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 16 February 2015

After nearly a week walking my ass off in reasonable early-spring weather, I arrived back in Chicago last night to -11°C, which dropped to -15°C for my commute this morning. It is strangely not comforting that it has been this cold this late on only 12 days since 1871. Or that it's going to be even colder Wednesday and Thursday.

Will it warm up? Eventually. But the National Climate Prediction Center forecasts below-average temperatures for the next couple of weeks.

It was really nice to be able to walk 10-14 km every day for a week. Maybe sometime in June I'll be able to do that again.

Monday 16 February 2015 09:41:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 5 February 2015

Getting out of a snowy parking space is tough. Getting into one can be tougher. Boy, do I like my car's all-wheel drive and manual transmission:

I'm actually far enough from the car behind mine that, should he manage to dig himself out fore and aft, he'd have no trouble getting out.

And, wow, has this weather been hell on my Fitbit numbers.

Thursday 5 February 2015 11:41:38 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Travel | Weather#
Monday 2 February 2015

So, I'm sitting here, generally unperturbed by the blizzard yesterday, and it turns out it was the fifth-worst in history:

After further review and the addition of the storm’s last flakes that fell early Monday morning, the final numbers for the historic Super Bowl Blizzard are in. It is interesting to note that this storm fell exactly four years to the days after the city’s 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard.

The addition snowfall that fell late Sunday and early Monday morning now makes this storm the city’s 5th heaviest snowstorm.

  1. 584 mm January 26-27, 1967 The Big Snow
  2. 585 mm January 1-3, 1999 The New Year’s Storm
  3. 538 mm January 31-February 2, 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard
  4. 516 mm January 12-14, 1979 Blizzard of 79
  5. 490 mm January 31-February 2, 2015 The Super Bowl Blizzard

Huh. So maybe it was a big storm after all.

My coverage of the 2011 storm is here and here.

Monday 2 February 2015 10:59:14 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Chicago officially got 450 mm of snow yesterday; here's Lincoln Park this morning:

Fortunately, my car is parked on a stretch of street that acts as a wind tunnel during typical Chicago blizzards, so I'll actually be able to move it today:

The car has all-wheel drive and the "winter package," and handles beautifully in snow. Unlike this poor Beetle just a few meters away:

In other news, Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow, which means mostly that there is a very irritated rodent in central Pennsylvania.

Monday 2 February 2015 09:51:10 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Travel | Weather#
Sunday 1 February 2015

A slow-moving winter storm has moved into the Chicago area. Compared with the truly awful storms we've had over the years, it doesn't seem so bad, so far: only 150 mm so far with another 150 mm predicted through tomorrow morning. This comes, of course, with falling temperatures and increasing winds as the low passes to our south, but again, nothing we can't handle.

As usual, Parker enjoys it:

As usual, my car doesn't:

And new this year, but most likely a usual problem in the future, my Fitbit numbers have not looked great. My daily step average went from 11,700 in December to 10,300 in January—265 km vs. 233 km. One bright spot: I lost 2.3 kg from January 1st through today, so I'm doing something right. (Or I'm dehydrated.)

Parker got a 20-minute walk this morning which included some off-leash time at the park. He'll probably get another pair of walks in as we go over to J's Old Lincoln Park for the Superbowl. As mentioned, today is J's last day open, so there will probably be a good number of Euchre players there to wish the owner well. (Of course, we'll probably see him at the next meetup on Wednesday.)

Sunday 1 February 2015 09:59:55 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Weather#
Monday 26 January 2015

The Northeastern U.S. is bracing for what the National Weather Service calls "a storm of historic proportions:"

Snow accumulations of around 500-750 mm with locally higher amounts [are forecast]. Snowfall rates of 50-100 mm an hour at times.

A blizzard warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent gusts over 56 km/h are expected with considerable falling and/or blowing and drifting snow. Visibilities will become poor with whiteout conditions at times. those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented...so persons in the warning area are advised to stay indoors.

All unnecessary travel is discouraged beginning Monday afternoon to allow people already on the road to safely reach their destination before the heavy snow begins and to allow snow removal equipment to begin to clear roads.

The worst snowfall on record in the Northeast dumped 683 mm of snow on Central Park over 11-12 February 2006. This one could be bigger.

Hang in there, New York and Boston. And just remember the immortal words of Michael Bilandic: "Snow melts."

Update: The governors of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have ordered precautionary measures including closing state offices and ordering all cars off the roads tonight. All flights at Boston Logan are cancelled starting 7pm EST tonight; New York airports are also shut Tuesday. The New England Patriots have skipped town early to get to the Superbowl on time. And residents of Maine are...well, they're not doing anything special, because it's just snow.

Monday 26 January 2015 11:21:24 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Weather#
Tuesday 20 January 2015

Yep. Pretty dreary today:

At least it's above freezing.

Tuesday 20 January 2015 12:56:59 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Interesting things to read:

Before reading all of those I need to get a production deployment ready for this weekend. It would help if I were completely certain what's in production right now...

Tuesday 20 January 2015 12:30:14 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | US | Cool links | Weather | Windows Azure#
Saturday 10 January 2015

Sure, it's -17°C, and it's been colder than that the last six nights in a row, but let's put this in perspective: last year was way, way worse:

The new year has opened very wintry bringing the city major league doses of snow and cold. Through January 9 temperatures have averaged a frigid -10.9°C and there have been 193 mm of snow. But, it was much colder and snowier during the same period last year with temperatures averaging -13.4°C and the city buried under nearly 509 mm of snow.

With clear skies and a fresh snow cover, Saturday will dawn bitterly cold with another round of subzero [Fahrenheit] temperatures, but readings will moderate in the afternoon as highs approach the upper teens [Fahrenheit]. Slow warming will continue with the mercury flirting with the freezing mark by Thursday and closing in on 6°C by next weekend. The only significant snow threat on the horizon comes Sunday night and Monday as a weather system moves through the Midwest, but current forecast trends point to the bulk of the snow falling south of Chicago.

Yesterday, white-out conditions contributed to a 193-vehicle pile-up in central Michigan that killed one and hurt 23:

There were 26 semis and 34 cars involved on the eastbound side of the freeway, and several vehicles there were burning in the pileup west of exit 92. Among them was a truck that carried 20 tonnes of hazardous materials and another hauling fireworks. Shortly before noon, those fireworks caught fire, causing an extended display of aerial explosions. Police said crews are still fighting flareups and monitoring the air as of 8:23pm [Saturday].

The westbound side of the freeway saw 50 semis and 83 cars involved.

More than 12 hours after the pileup, wreckage was still smoldering and emergency crews were still cleaning up.

I-94 is closed in both directions from exit 88 east of Galesburg to exit 92 west of Battle Creek, the Michigan Department of Transportation said. The expressway is expected to remain shut down until at least midnight.

More personally, on Monday night my car got tapped by a taxi who locked his brakes and slid right into the corner of my bumper causing $3100 in damage to my car and, of course, none to his.

So: if you're not familiar with snow, don't drive in it; drive more slowly than you think is necessary; and know exactly how your car behaves.

Saturday 10 January 2015 09:16:11 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 8 January 2015

However, with -13°C snow blowing around at—no joke—59 km/h, it looks like this:

I still will never move south of Interstate 80. Never. This is just character-building weather, and it will pass.

See? These guys (Titus and Honey Baked Hamlet) know how to stay warm:

They trotted over to the Euchre Meet-Up last night. Parker didn't, because J's is just far enough from home that Parker would have been too cold. (He usually attends.)

Thursday 8 January 2015 15:30:02 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 7 January 2015

Chicago is under a hazardous weather outlook this morning because it's -18°C with wind chills around -30°C.

Schools all over the area have closed, prompting our operations manager to declare a work-from-home day. I might have done anyway, because I've caught a chest cold that has gotten worse since Sunday to the point where all I want to do is nap.

All of this will improve soon. Temperatures are expected to rise to more-seasonable (-3°C) levels by Sunday, and I expect to have defeated this invasion of pathogens well before then.

And, of course, all of this builds character, because it's Chicago.

Wednesday 7 January 2015 07:48:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 6 January 2015

Therefore, another link round-up:

There are a couple of other articles on my Kindle too, I just haven't got time to link them.

Tuesday 6 January 2015 13:07:34 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | London | US | World | Weather#
Monday 5 January 2015

Isn't this pretty?

Yes. Yes it is. But taking the picture almost caused my fingers to freeze off, because it's this bloody cold:

And it's going to be colder this week: -15°C is forecast for Wednesday—as the high.

I expect to have dismal Fitbit numbers for a few days, too. Ordinarily Mondays my schedule allows me to walk quite a distance. Today, as you can see above, I said to hell with it and drove.

Monday 5 January 2015 09:27:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 3 January 2015

Today's Fitbit numbers will probably not wow anyone, owing to the 2°C rain keeping our layer of slush from solidifying entirely.

Enter next week's forecast to put things into perspective:

Tuesday
A 30 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near -6°C.

Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around -18°C. Blustery.

Wednesday
Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near -16°C. Blustery.

Wednesday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around -20°C.

Thursday
Mostly sunny, with a high near -10°C. Breezy.

Oh, joy. Break out the Aran sweater and long johns...and wait for the warm-up on Thursday.

Saturday 3 January 2015 14:49:51 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 31 December 2014

We woke up this morning to a brisk -16°C with an even brisker wind chill around -25°C. It hasn't been this cold in Chicago since the -19°C we had on March 3rd, 303 days ago. And still, no measurable snow in December, which has happened only four times in recorded history.

Even Parker didn't want to go for much of a walk this morning. And I'm not confident about my Fitbit numbers for the day...

Also: Happy New Year to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and in less than an hour, Singapore.

Wednesday 31 December 2014 09:18:34 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 30 December 2014

Vacation. It always makes me a little crazy. I need stuff to do. And even though the temperature has plummeted to -12°C overnight, that means going outside and not sitting at my computer.

When Parker and I get too cold, I'll start reading these articles:

And because my (irritated) Euchre coach demands it, I'll review (one more time) Harvey Lapp's Ten Commandments of Euchre.

Tuesday 30 December 2014 09:36:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | US | Weather#
Monday 29 December 2014

As of Saturday, Chicago set a new record in gloominess by having no sunshine at all for 17 days in December:

Low pressure passed to our north and a cold front swept through our area from the west Saturday. Winter Weather Advisories for 50 to 200 mm of snow were in place from northeast Nebraska through northern Iowa and southern Minnesota into northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, while cloudy skies and widely scattered light rain showers prevailed across the Chicago area. But those clouds cut off the sun – Frank Wachowski’s sunshine recorder measured no sunlight – making Saturday the record 17th day this December with zero percent sunshine – the old record was 16 zero percent sunshine days registered on 4 separate years – the last in 2009.

The clouds have persisted into the nighttime hours as well – trapping the nighttime heat and keeping our overnight lows so far this month 4.7°C, and boosting our overall temperature average to 3.3°C above normal. These relatively mild temperature should be reflected in lower December heating bills.

The sun is peeking out today after being out all day yesterday.

And still no snow this month, nor any in the forecast. Weird. In fact, this December's weather has been much more like a typical November in Chicago: gloomy and cold, but not that cold, and not that snowy.

We'll get snow, though. Oh yes. We will...

Monday 29 December 2014 11:14:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 26 December 2014

...I stopped here one more time this morning:

At the moment Chicago's weather isn't too bad. At the moment. But it's still nothing like this.

By the way, I've actually reduced the saturation in this photo a bit. The sun was directly behind me and relatively low on the horizon, so the colors in this shot are very close to what I saw.

Friday 26 December 2014 11:38:26 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#

Chicago has had its least snowfall—specifically, just a trace with nothing measurable—in the past 102 Decembers:

Only three Decembers have recorded this little snow since records began in 1884!

1889, 1894 and 1912 hold those numbers.

No snow is forecast through the end of the year, but it will be a chilly -9°C on New Year's Eve.

And I'm pretty sure no one in Chicago wants a repeat of last year.

Friday 26 December 2014 06:55:02 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 24 December 2014

Yesterday, the majority of weather models forecast a major winter storm over Chicago that was going to snarl traffic, ground airplanes, and make life a living hell for several friends of mine. One of the models had a slightly different prediction, however. Looks like the minority opinion was right:

The northbound storm driving Chicago’s Christmas Eve 2014 rainfall is going to have a hard time producing the kind of cooling which would support big snow accumulations. It’s been clear from the range of forecasts covering aspects of the storms development and movement that this system’s ability to generate snow may well be limited by the warm environment in which it springs to life. While bursts of wet snowflakes may well wind up in Wed afternoon and evening’s precipitation mix, it’s hard to see how snowfall of an intensity to do more than just dust the warm ground or produce minor transitory accumulations, expecting more of this storm will be a tough sell.

Because the system part of an environment awash in mild air, Wednesday’s Christmas Eve storm is in a position in which it must generate its own cold air through storm dynamics (i.e. the ascension and resultant cooling of air brought on by the storm’s intensification). Such cooling may well happen to Chicago’s east from sections of Indiana near Valparaiso north into Michigan City, Benton Harbor, Muskegon, etc–regions likely to sit beneath the storm’s strongest dynamics and, therefore, the area most likely to experience the kind of cooling which may take rain over to snow long enough to produce more than the dusting to 2″ accumulations predicted by our team to occur in the greater Chicago area.

In other words, Chicago will be wet and cold, but not snowy. Life goes on.

Of course, none of this would affect me today, because I'm back here for the holiday:

Today it's misty and damp on the peninsula, so I might not hit my Fitbit goal today. But I'm still warmer than I'd be back home.

Wednesday 24 December 2014 10:01:23 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#
Saturday 20 December 2014

If you live in Chicago, your gloominess may have something to do with the cloudiest December in 39 years:

The full month [of December 1975] managed just 19% of its possible sun that year–the same lackluster sunshine allotment on the books in 2014 as we move the final days of December. Failure to boost that pitifully limited tally between now and the month’s close at midnight this coming Wednesday, would put the Chicago area in line for a possible new record.

There have been cloudier months. Our veteran Chicago climate guru and official National Weather Service observer Frank Wachowski at Midway Airport since the 1950s, reports Nov 1985 managed just 16% of its possible sun making it this area’s cloudiest month since sunshine records began here in 1893.

We're now in our 13th day without sun. Thirteen days, no sun. And then next week, this:

Big changes again loom. Temps appear poised to tank with arctic air’s reappearance later this coming week extending into the closing days of 2014 in the week which follows. Signaling the change is warming in the arctic. Huge pools of “warmer” than normal air are predicted to assemble through the atmosphere over Alaska and Greenland in the coming 6 to 10 days creating atmospheric “blocking” there. You can see them in the orange-hued areas on this hemispheric forecast generated by the National Weather Service’s GFS global forecast model. That the global models of other national meteorological organizations are producing strikingly similar forecasts reinforces confidence in the forecast of change.

At least, if it's that cold, it will probably be sunny.

Saturday 20 December 2014 09:04:13 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 18 December 2014

The trouble with holiday parties on Wednesday is that you have to function on Thursday. So, to spare my brain from having to do anything other than the work-related things its already got to do, here are things I will read later:

All for now.

Thursday 18 December 2014 12:36:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | US | World | Business | Travel | Weather#
Wednesday 3 December 2014

December 2014 opened the coldest in 118 years in Chicago, but all the forecasts point to a huge warm-up over the next two weeks:

he scope of the warming being predicted is really something. The global scope of the milder than normal temps is evident from the depiction at the top of this post. The Weather Service’s GFS model, Environment Canada’s GEM ensemble and the European Center’s deterministic and ensemble model are all on board with the onset of a significantly warmer than normal pattern. This doesn’t mean there won’t be some cool days intermingled with the “warmth”. There actually will be. But, these forecasts speak to the overall pattern. Each of these predictions suggest a major pattern about-face heading through mid-December–a radical change from the arctic chill which has dominated the past three months producing the 11th coldest meteorological autumn (i.e. Sept through Nov period) on the books and the 8th coldest November in 143 years of official observations here.

Are prospects for winter cold dead? Don’t count on it. High latitude blocking, a major factor in the cold with which the current season has begun, has been a factor in almost all of our recent winters producing the high amplified (i.e. “buckled” or “wavy”) jet stream patterns which encourage arctic air to dive into the Lower 48.

But not quite yet, it seems. The next week will be seasonable, with temperatures right around freezing. The warm-up, if it occurs, is more than a week away.

On the other hand, I'm in Louisiana tonight, where it's 12°C—too chilly for a long walk in the light sweater I've got on, but a lot warmer than back home. So I'm going to have a look at the Mississippi, then hustle back inside for a pint of something.

Tuesday 2 December 2014 21:13:01 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Travel | Weather | Work#
Sunday 30 November 2014

Their forecast was correct: a cold front has pushed into the Chicago area, dropping temperatures rapidly and turning our sunny morning into a cold and grey last day of autumn. At 11:30 it was 11°C outside my door; now, just over 2 hours later, it's 4°C, and getting cooler yet.

This will not stop me from walking another few kilometers, though. It's still above freezing, after all.

Sunday 30 November 2014 13:49:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Knowing that winter is coming later today motivated me to take Parker on his biggest walk since we went hiking in mid-September: an hour and three quarters, 10 km, 11,000 FitBit steps (which translates to about 60,000 Parker steps).

The 11°C out my door can't last, though. Rockford is down to 1°C; Burlington, Wisc., about an hour northwest of O'Hare, is already below freezing.

With 13,000 steps already behind me today, and being only 7,000 steps away from a 1-day total over 20,000 and a 7-day total over 100,000, I see more walking before day's end...

Sunday 30 November 2014 11:36:18 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#

As reported yesterday, an Arctic high pressure area is moving south into the United States, bringing freezing temperatures with it. The latest surface analysis looks like this:

It's 9°C in Chicago but 3°C in Rockford, just 145 km away.

Conclusion? It's time to take Parker on his long walk of the day. Now.

Sunday 30 November 2014 09:13:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Saturday 29 November 2014

It looks like the temperature will get up to 11°C this afternoon, and the sun is still visible. Meteorological autumn ends tomorrow, and apparently so does this weather. The forecast calls for an unseasonably warm evening followed by a cold-front passage tomorrow late morning and temperatures falling to 1°C by noon and -6°C overnight.

This is a long way of saying that Parker and I need to go for another walk pretty much ASAP. We walked about 5 km so far today. Let's see if we can squeeze in another 5 before sundown.

Saturday 29 November 2014 14:57:56 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#

Yesterday morning I performed with the Apollo Chorus at the Art Institute's Lion Wreathing in -8°C cold. Now, less than 30 hours later, it's 10°C and sunny. So if you'll excuse me, Parker and I are going to walk about 20,000 steps so I can blow out my FitBit stats for November.

Video of yesterday's performance:

Saturday 29 November 2014 13:08:19 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 24 November 2014

This morning I commuted to work in drizzle, wind, and 9°C temperatures. In the five hours since then, the rain has turned to snow, the wind has turned to gale, and the temperature has dropped 10°C.

Welcome to Chicago in November.

The biggest casualty of this in my life may be my FitBit. I've hit my goal of 10,000 steps every day for the last nine, and gotten close (>= 9,000 steps) every day this month except one. Today, I may hit 10,000 steps, but only if I really push myself. In the cold. And snow. And win.

Could happen, though. I'm already past 5,000, and my car is parked more than 2 km from my office. So if the wind isn't blasting ice pellets into my face this evening, I'll walk to rehearsal and possibly hit 10,000 steps on the way.

Monday 24 November 2014 13:30:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather | Work#
Friday 21 November 2014

Chicago's temperature dropped below freezing last Wednesday morning and has stayed there since. It's -13°C now, the coldest it's been during this period.

Fortunately some warmer, wetter air is pushing in from the south, and should arrive after midnight. The forecast calls for sustained 9°C temperatures (and non-stop rain) from Saturday morning through Monday afternoon, when another cool air mass will slide into the region and freeze us out again.

Welcome to winter in Chicago. Warm rain and frigid dryness, for three months.

Friday 21 November 2014 07:09:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Via the Illinois State Climatologist, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center has released the latest outlook for December through February:

First, there are two important notes about the winter forecast. One is that El Niño has not arrived yet, and if it does, it is expected to be mild.

The other point is that the current conditions are not always a reliable predictor of future conditions. In other words, just because we are having a cold November (9 degrees below average), that does not doom us to another cold winter. To give a recent example, November of 2012 was 1.3 degrees below average, while the following winter of 2012-13 was 3.0 degrees above average.

The first panel shows the temperature odds for December-February, our core winter months. Southern Illinois has a slightly elevated chance of colder-than-average temperatures as does most of the southern states. There is a stronger chance that temperatures will be above-average on the West Coast and Alaska.

The El Niño was earlier forecast to be slightly stronger than the current forecast has it, which is disappointing. We're still experiencing frigid temperatures here, and it's not even December yet. El Niño can mitigate the cold in Chicago if it's strong enough. Now it looks like we're going to have the usual amount of chill. Fie.

Thursday 20 November 2014 18:55:58 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 18 November 2014

We're joking in Chicago right now that we've skipped November and December and gone straight through to mid-January. Only, it's not really a joke, as temperatures early this morning got down to -12°C, almost 11°C below normal for November 18th—and, in fact, 3°C below normal for January 18th.

Moreover, the Northern Hemisphere today has greater snow cover this early than at any time since 1966. Fully 50% of the Continental U.S. is covered by snow, which is more than 3 times average.

Does this mean we'll have a colder-than-average winter? No. Chicago's forecast calls for above-normal temperatures this weekend followed by seasonal (read: above-freezing) temperatures through the first week of December. That will make Apollo's next performance, the wreath-laying ceremony at the Art Institute the day after Thanksgiving, more bearable.

This week has been barely bearable, though. But we press on; we persevere; we get our FitBit numbers in, even though bits of our bodies have frozen off.

Tuesday 18 November 2014 13:55:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 14 November 2014

While not the Polar Vortex of yore, it's definitely colder in Chicago now, even a little below normal. In any event, Wednesday and yesterday were the first two days that failed to get above freezing since March 4th and 5th, 253 days ago.

And it snowed yesterday. Again, not horribly unreasonable for mid-November, but not entirely common, either. But nothing so far suggests that our mild summer will be followed by a really cold winter; and in fact, the long-range forecasts are pretty normal.

Friday 14 November 2014 09:49:15 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 11 November 2014

The first wintry cold front of the season has pushed through the Chicago area. Yesterday around this time we had a windy 16°C afternoon. Even as late as 6am the temperature still lingered around 12°C, not warm per se but pretty mild for November.

The cold front's leading edge hit around 7am and has now moved over the lake, leaving us with a chilly and gloomy 3°C evening and a forecast overnight wind chill below -10°C. Record cold temperatures are predicted next Monday and Tuesday.

Does this mean we're going to have another super-cold winter in Chicago? Probably not. Cold snaps happen; the Polar Vortex last year, that made the eastern U.S. the coldest spot in the world (relative to normal temperatures), was an extremely rare event.

Still, it might be time to break out the wool long johns...

Tuesday 11 November 2014 15:19:18 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 13 October 2014

Via the Illinois State Climatologist, NOAA has put out a two-page brochure outlining the El Niño forecast for this coming winter, and its benefits to the Chicago area:

While no two El Niño events are alike, the typical winter weather pattern brings the polar jet stream farther north than usual, across Canada, while the Pacific jet stream remains in the southern U.S. As a result, the upper Midwest to Great Lakes area can be warmer than normal, with drier-than-normal conditions across the Great Lakes toward the Ohio River Valley, and with less snow than usual in the upper Midwest Confidence in these patterns is higher with stronger El Niño events.

Odds still favor an El Niño forming by mid to late fall, with a 60-70% chance of development. There is a 30-40% chance for neutral conditions to continue through this winter, with a near-zero chance for La Niña to develop.

After last year's brutal winter, the worst we've had in 35 years, the phrase "warmer and drier than normal" sounds great. I vote Yes.

Monday 13 October 2014 13:11:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 11 October 2014

It's sunny and cool, and I have no remaining responsibilities that I know of for the afternoon. So Parker and I are going for a long walk.

Oh, and: Go Giants.

Saturday 11 October 2014 13:55:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | San Francisco | Weather#
Wednesday 8 October 2014

Last night's lunar eclipse had reached totality when I dragged Parker and myself out of the house around 5:30 this morning. Eclipses are always worth seeing, especially on a perfectly clear morning like today.

Now if I could just do something about the streetlights next time...

Wednesday 8 October 2014 09:29:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather | Astronomy#
Tuesday 7 October 2014

While I'm up to my eyeballs at work, I've got a backlog of articles to catch up on:

Once I've got some free time (maybe this afternoon) I'll talk about yesterday's Supreme Court non-decision that changes civil rights in the U.S. forever.

Tuesday 7 October 2014 13:16:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | Software | 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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