The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Spot the cold front

It cooled off a bit this afternoon:

We've hit -11°C, down from 1.1°C right before that sharp turn at 12:32, and it keeps dropping. Plus, we've got ourselves some snow. This is 1:40pm:

And this is 3:40pm:

Updates as conditions warrant.

Here it comes...

In the last 24 hours, the temperature forecast hasn't changed but the snow forecast has:

Right now it's a calm, overcast 0°C. But then we have this from the National Weather Service:

Snow, mainly after 11am. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow after 3pm. Temperature falling to around -13°C by 5pm. Wind chill values as low as -25°C. Breezy, with a southwest wind 10 to 20 km/h becoming northwest 30 to 40 km/h. Winds could gust as high as 55 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 5 to 9 centimeters possible.

Snow. Widespread blowing snow, mainly after midnight. Low around -21°C. Wind chill values as low as -37°C. Windy, with a west northwest wind 40 to 45 km/h increasing to 45 to 50 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 75 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 centimeters possible.

Snow showers likely, mainly before noon. Widespread blowing snow. Cloudy and cold, with a high near -17°C. Wind chill values as low as -37°C. Windy, with a west wind 50 to 55 km/h, with gusts as high as 80 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one centimeter possible.

Friday Night
Isolated snow showers before midnight, then scattered flurries after midnight. Widespread blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -18°C. Wind chill values as low as -33°C. Windy, with a west wind 40 to 50 km/h, with gusts as high as 80 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Ah, but here's the Chicago in December part: the forecast for next week says we could see temperatures jump to 10°C by Friday. Welcome to the land of building character.

At least the streets will probably get cleaned by Friday morning. (Chicago's Streets & Sanitation knows what they're doing.)

Glad I planned to stay in Chicago this weekend

This looks fun:

WGN fleshes out the forecast's bones:

  • Snow develops Thursday – beginning in far western sections (west of Interstate-39) during the morning and spreading east with deteriorating conditions across the area by early-mid afternoon
  • Blizzard conditions possible, particularly late Thursday night through Friday afternoon (heavy blinding blowing snow with visibility under a quarter mile or less for at least 3 consecutive hours). Very difficult and dangerous travel conditions.
  • Wind gusts to 90 km/h may cause power outages. Winds shifting to the W/NW area-wide by Thursday afternoon with initial gusts 50-60 km/h, peak gusts 90 km/h+ later Thursday night and early Friday.
  • Dangerous life threatening wind chills, falling temps Thursday afternoon. Sub-zero [Fahrenheit] wind chills possible by late afternoon and early evening Thursday. Increasing winds and falling temps could eventually result in wind chills of -28°C to -37°C by Friday/Friday night with wind chills well below -18°C continuing through the weekend.

So, I had planned to work downtown tomorrow, which will still happen, just for a much shorter interval. And I had planned to let Cassie hang out with her friends at day camp all day, because my darling middle-aged dog has the energy of a whippet puppy if she doesn't get many hours of play a week.

And, as I mentioned yesterday, I also had planned to review a couple of breweries Friday afternoon. That will also have to wait.

As long as I don't lose electricity, Cassie and I will ride it out at home Friday. And if the power goes out, at least I have a gas fireplace and a warm dog.

Brace yourselves: winter is coming

We get one or two every year. The National Weather Service predicts that by Friday morning, Chicago will have heavy snowfall and gale-force winds, just what everyone wants two days before Christmas. By Saturday afternoon we'll have clear skies—and -15°C temperatures with 400 mm of snow on the ground. Whee!

We get to share our misery with a sizeable portion of the country as the bomb cyclone develops over the next three days. At least, once its gone and we have a clear evening Saturday or Sunday, we can see all five of the naked-eye planets just after sunset.

Meanwhile, I'm about to start my team's Sprint 75 Review, the last one of 2022, which contains a few goodies we put off because we spent most of our time on client requests. We have a strange habit of doing what paying customers know they want before we add the things they don't know they want.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world:

Finally, director James Cameron ended all debate about whether Jack and Rose could both have survived in Titanic: "Cameron maintains that Jack simply had to die, telling The Sun that 'if I had to make the raft smaller, it would have been smaller.'" Because the story, you see, required it.

Second day of sun, fading fast

What a delight to wake up for the second day in a row and see the sun. After 13 consecutive days of blah, even the -11°C cold that encouraged Cassie and me to get her to day care at a trot didn't bother me too much.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast says a blizzard will (probably) hit us next weekend, so I guess I'll have time to read all of these stories sitting on the couch with my dog:

Finally, one of my college music professors died this month. Herbert Deutsch co-created the Moog synthesizer and taught at Hofstra University for 40-plus years.

Full of sound and fury, and Lionel Messi's retirement

Argentina just won the 2022 World Cup by lining up and taking free kicks at a French goalie in a fitting end to one of the most corrupt and deadly sporting events in history. At least the 2026 World Cup will take place in countries with (reasonably) strong institutions and existing infrastructure.

All the expense, the hype, the scandal, the drama...and in the end, it came down to penalty kicks. It's like having track meet decided by guys jumping one hurdle at a time, or by putting a guy on 2nd base at the top of the 10th inning in a desperate attempt to make baseball more exciting. (Oh, wait...)

France didn't win, but Argentina didn't either, really. Nor did the 6,500 dead construction workers, the athletes, the gay fans, or the 90% of the people living in Qatar who will never have citizenship because, like most petro-states, the Qataris have a form of Apartheid that FW de Klerk could only dream of.

So who really won this evening? FIFA officials, of course. The Qatari elite (for now; in 10 years they will look upon their works, and despair). The bribed European officials who didn't get caught. And probably Lionel Messi, who gets a better send-off this evening than Zidane did, I suppose.

The only appropriate response to FIFA is not to watch. Even John Oliver conceded as much, before admitting he'd watch. Everyone's individual choices make corruption on this scale work. I just wish people would internalize that.

But in Qatar, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Transport priorities: Ravenswood vs I-290

I mentioned this in passing earlier this week, but I wanted to highlight this story of the American automobile fetish and how much it costs us. On Wednesday, the city officially opened an $800 million rebuild of the Jane Byrne Interchange, which started after the Union Pacific Railroad began rebuilding a single train station that still hasn't reopened:

The original Circle Interchange was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and had no major overhaul until the reconstruction project began in 2013. The project took nearly a decade to complete.

After eight years, the project to overhaul the entire interchange, where three expressways meet, is now substantially complete. It was slated to be complete in 2017, with a price tag of $535 million. It will end up costing $806 million.

Prior to its reconstruction, the interchange struggled to perform under its original 1958 design, resulting in congestion for the majority of the day and frequent unsafe conditions, according to the governor's office.

The American Transportation Research Institute and the Federal Highway Administration at one point rated the interchange the country's No. 1 bottleneck for freight.

I've previously reported on the excruciating wait for the Ravenswood station's east platform to open. But the Jane Byrne rebuild cost two orders of magnitude more and, in my opinion, should never have existed in the first place. Notice, in this 1961 Chicago Tribune photo, the complete destruction of the eastern half of Greek Town plus the flattened West Loop neighborhood between the river and Halsted, all in service of cars—even though Chicago back then had more railroad track per capita than any other city in the world:

Photo: Chicago Tribune

So, wonderful, after spending nearly a billion dollars, the "improvements" will once again induce demand that obviates them, probably within ten years. And that's one interchange. Imagine if we'd spent half that money on regular road maintenance and another half on, oh, the CTA?

The 75-year experiment of dispersing low-density housing over a wide area connected by dangerous, high-pollution roads failed almost as soon as it began. But we still can't accept that building a hundred train stations at $8 million a pop will have better long-term outcomes than rebuilding one road interchange—especially if we build them in one year rather than 10.

Look! Up in the sky!

This was the view out my (downtown) office window Friday afternoon:

And this, after 13 straight days of overcast skies, was the view out my (home) office window a few minutes ago:

On the other hand, it's -9°C going up to -4°C...but that trade-off works fine for me.