The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Walking through the neighborhoods

I took a short walk today, from Central Street in Evanston to my house. Totals: 16.37 km, 2:25:29, 8'53" per km, 18,357 steps. It's not as far as my epic 28 km walk last June, but I'll probably do another walk that distance sometime later this year. I mean, why not a 32 km walk?

Right. Because my feet hurt.

So far today I'm just shy of 30,000 steps. So I'm not quite in the top 5—but I will be if I walk another thousand steps, which seems pretty likely:

2016 Jun 16 40,748
2016 Oct 23 36,105
2016 Sep 25 32,354
2016 Jun 8 32,315
2015 Apr 26 30,496
2016 Mar 8 29,775
So far today 29,445

And here's the meandering route I took:

Morning articles

Things to read today:

And finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article on our concert this weekend, and composer Jeff Beal performing in it:

"I suppose it might have been DNA asserting itself," said Beal, who will be in Chicago May 5 and Evanston May 7 when the celebrated Apollo Chorus includes his "The Salvage Men" and "Poor in Spirit" as part of their 145th-season-ending spring concert, "American Masters," in Chicago and Evanston. "It's true that [my grandmother] passed on her love of improvisation, but there's also something almost eerily similar about what she did, watching a screen and creating her own musical accompaniment, and what I do in my day job."

[H]e had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Though he took seven years to process the news before beginning to write "The Salvage Men" in 2014.

Serendipitously, that was about the time that Apollo Chorus music director Stephen Alltop, who studied with Beal at Eastman, got back in touch to praise Beal's work on" House of Cards" and suggest the possibility of doing a concert together. Which explains why Beal and his new choral works are appearing in Chicago directly after their debuts in London and Los Angeles. Beal also will perform solo trumpet over the comparatively simple text of his "Poor in Spirit," — it consists entirely of one repeated phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" — much as he often plays trumpet over the score of "House of Cards."

Tickets are available through the Apollo Chorus website. It's going to be an amazing concert.

Another milestone on the way to planetary disaster

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii announced this week that the atmosphere passed 410 ppm of carbon dioxide and is heading for a monthly average of 407 ppm, the highest values observed on earth in millions of years:

Carbon dioxide concentrations have skyrocketed over the past two yearsdue to in part to natural factors like El Niño causing more of it to end up in the atmosphere. But it’s mostly driven by the record amounts of carbon dioxide humans are creating by burning fossil fuels.

“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”

Even when concentrations of carbon dioxide level off, the impacts of climate change will extend centuries into the future. The planet has already warmed 1.8°F (1°C), including a run of 627 months in a row of above-normal heat. Sea levels have risen about a foot and oceans have acidified. Extreme heat has become more common.

Too bad all that data isn't persuasive enough for some people. I guess the planet just needs better P.R.

Stuff I'll read later

A little busy today, so I'm putting these down for later consumption:

Now, I must prepare...for Whisky Fest!

Warm spring?

The National Climate Prediction Center has released a batch of forecasts. Right now they're predicting increased chances of warm weather for Chicago through November:

The heart of summer shows Illinois with an increased chance of above-normal temperatures. But more interesting is that they have introduced a region of below-normal precipitation in the southern half of Illinois. The combination of warmer and drier than normal conditions during that time of year could lead to drought.

Map:

Right now it's a normal March day, and nearly all the snow from Tuesday is gone.

Strangest winter I can remember

The snow continues to fall:

The Chicago area remained under a lake-effect snow warning as the Tuesday morning rush slowed to an icy crawl on expressways and some Metra train lines.

The warning covers Cook, Lake and DuPage counties until 4 p.m.  In Lake County, Ind., the warning has been extended to 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The dense snow was being carried by winds from the north to northeast over Lake Michigan.  The snow bands were expected to slowly shift into northwest Indiana later in the morning and continue overnight into Wednesday.

I'm in my home office today watching alternating whiteout and sunny conditions as bands of lake-effect snow wash over the area. Later, I have to dig my car out to take Parker for a routine vet visit.

But, of course, it's March. The forecast calls for temperatures to warm up above freezing around noon Thursday and stay there until Saturday night, when they'll dip only briefly before spring begins in earnest.

Chicago's weather is weird.

Winter is here!

Chicago had no measurable snowfall for almost three months—until last night:

Snow started Sunday. Snow in the Chicago area and elsewhere is leading to more than 500 cancellations at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

The last time Chicago received any significant snowfall was in mid-December, when there was a little more than 5 inches of snow on Dec. 11 and 3.5 inches of snow days later.

Since the first of the year, what rare flurries the city has seen have added up to less than an inch of snow.

My co-workers who came from other climates are terribly confused. We native Chicagoans are not. Of course we're getting an early-spring snowfall. We haven't built up enough character from the first two months of the year.

Gently swaying in the middle floors...

Chicago is experiencing sustained 48 km/h winds with gusts up to 68 km/h, which has a noticeable effect on the building I work in. Sears Willis Tower was designed to sway in high winds. Over the years, however, material and building techniques have changed, so occasionally windows blow out of our upper floors. Fortunately this hasn't happened in almost 7 years, but these winds are high enough today that we may have to close the upper floors.

I may pop up to 66 today just to feel it. At that floor, the building can sway almost 3 m. I'm feeling a little dizzy and I'm only a third the way up.

Unprecedented winter in Chicago

It's official: for the first time in recorded history, Chicago had no snow on the ground during the last two months of meterological winter (January and February):

Because the snow measurement is taken at 6 a.m. at O'Hare International Airport, small amounts of snow that may have fallen later in the day and melted were not recorded, said Amy Seeley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. This occurred Feb. 25 when there was a trace of snow and Jan. 30 when there was 2 mm. The weather service has been keeping data on snow on the ground for 146 years.

WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling said he believes the 146-year streak in Chicago is part of climate change and emphasized that it does not occur linearly, meaning that there is potential for cold winters in the future.

And Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel officially declared February the warmest-ever:

All those days with 60- and 70-degree [Fahrenheit] weather paid off – this February was the warmest February on record for Illinois. The statewide average temperature for February was 4.7°C, 5.3°C above normal. It beat the old record of 4.4°C set back in 1998.

Yes. This is climate change. I've long predicted Chicago would benefit, even though on balance the world won't.