Happy Sunday. Tonight the sun sets in Chicago at 4:30pm, and won't set after 4:30 again until New Year's Eve. So in the few hours of daylight I have left, I'll read a few things:
- A low pressure area northeast of Chicago has brought 100 km/h winds to the area, but at least it won't snow today.
- Entomologists in Washington State eradicated a "small" nest containing several hundred murder hornets. They worry a couple of queens might have escaped.
- The BBC fact-checked rumors that 10,000 dead people voted in Michigan, and spoke with several of them without consulting psychics.
I'm going to return to doing nothing of value today, which is the point of Sundays.
The record for consecutive 21°C-plus days in Chicago is 5, set 15-19 November 1953. Today will be the third in a row, with the forecast showing the fourth, fifth, and sixth coming this weekend and on Monday.
In other sunny news, the electoral map has shifted a bit overnight:
Arizona's count has slowly shifted away from Biden while in both Georgia and Pennsylvania the count has put Biden ahead. In Georgia, Biden now leads by 1,200 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from heavily-Democratic areas near Atlanta. In Pennsylvania, Biden's 6,000-vote lead will likely grow as the final votes come in from Philadelphia, which has gone 90-10 for him in some places. And, of course, Biden leads in the national popular vote, by about 4 million. Both candidates have so far received more votes than any in history.
Note that if the six undeclared states solidify in their current colors, the Electoral College vote will exactly mirror 2016's: 306 to 228. That would be a delicious irony, showing that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
We have some decent fall colors this year. They should peak sometime this week, but I didn't want to waste perfect weather this evening, so I took the drone over to Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum:
Here's the end still, with a bit of processing in Lightroom, taken from here:
Graceland closed for the longest period in its history after the August derecho that knocked 200 trees and caused $250,000 in damage. Fortunately the surviving trees look beautiful in their autumn best.
While I'm waiting for Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris to face off at 8pm Central, I have other things to occupy my thoughts:
Also, it's sunny and 20°C this morning, going up to 23°C this afternoon, so I'm taking half a day off work. We have perhaps 3 more days of nice weather this year, and it's the first day of a sprint (so no deadlines quite yet).
This is the view from Half Moon Bay, Calif., not far from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, at 9am this morning:
Update: The same reader sent this photo from noon PDT:
Fires continue to burn all over the state despite some modest cooling from this weekend's record temperatures. The California Air Resources Board notes that the increased frequency and severity of these fires, like the increased frequency and severity of other weather-related incidents, comes directly from climate change.
The image seems eerily familiar to us sci-fi fans:
Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountains have a completely different set of weather problems today:
Across parts of the northern and the central Rockies, including Denver, some 6 million people were under winter alerts Tuesday. Across this region, 100 to 200 mm of snow could fall, with locally higher amounts of 300 to 450 mm at the highest elevations through Wednesday. As the day broke, snow was already falling across parts of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming and moving into northern Colorado. By midmorning Tuesday, the snow was expected to spread across Colorado and last through Wednesday morning.
Winter hadn't just arrived through precipitation: Temperatures 17–22°C below average were forecast to lead to numerous records Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lows were forecast to dip below -10°C with wind chills [well below that], with highs that will struggle to get [above freezing] for several locations from the Rockies to parts of the Plains.
On Saturday, [Denver] hit 39°C. Not only was that a daily record high, But it also set an all-time hottest temperature record for the month of September in the city, and it was the furthest into September the city had ever hit 38°C. The previous record was 36.5°C, set last September.
On Monday, Denver hit a high of 34°C, making it the 73rd day in 2020 to exceed 32°C. That tied the all-time record of 73 days set in 2012.
Just 12 hours later, Denver was nearly 34°C colder Tuesday morning, with light snow beginning to fall around the area.
So, in three days, Denver went from a record-shattering 39°C to one of its earliest snowfalls on record.
This year just continues to get weirder.
I woke up this morning to a beautiful early-autumn morning: 16°C, low humidity, clear skies, and a gentle breeze. Parker celebrated by eating a live cicada, which made the mistake of buzzing when he sniffed it.
My plan today? Starting as close to 9:09 am as practical, I'm going to walk up to Lake Bluff, about 42 km. Full report when I recover.
A new United Nations report projects that the world's average temperature will hit 3.9°C above pre-industrial levels in 80 years without massive, immediate cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. The additional energy the atmosphere has absorbed in the 80 years has given us the perfect Thanksgiving weekend travel environment:
Not one, not two, but three powerful storm systems will make travel difficult to near impossible at times both before and after Thursday’s holiday.
A record-breaking “bomb cyclone” crashed ashore in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday night, bringing winds gusting over 160 km/h and feet of snow in some areas. That storm system will continue to dump snow in the Sierra Nevada while bringing heavy rain, coastal flooding and even isolated thunderstorms to Southern California. It will also spread rain and snow into Utah, Nevada and Colorado.
Meanwhile, a “kitchen sink” storm barreling through the Plains and Upper Midwest has already manifested itself in offering the worst of every season. Tornadoes touched down in Louisiana, while thundersnow and thundersleet rattled Nebraska. This is coming on the heels of Denver’s snowiest day in three years.
The snow is targeting the Great Lakes this hour, as strong winds spread over much of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. The winds, gusting up to 97 km/h at times, threaten to snarl air travel into and out of Chicago’s major hubs at O’Hare and Midway airports.
And that’s not all. The same upper-level disturbance that helped spin up the West Coast bomb cyclone will generate a third potent storm to the east. It will probably impact the eastern half of the Lower 48 this weekend.
Right now at O'Hare winds are 38 km/h gusting to 70 km/h with a peak gust of 98 km/h recorded at 10:11 this morning. As my first flight instructor used to say, "Mights gonna to be a bit vindy."
It's rush hour in Chicago right now, where commuters are slogging through snow and -5°C temperatures as the second significant winter storm pushes through the area.
And I feel for them. But here in London, it's 9°C and sunny, so one doesn't even need a coat to go out for lunch.
I also had the presence of mind to park in the $17-a-day garage instead of the $19-a-day outside parking lot at O'Hare, which will add 5 minutes to my trip from Terminal 5 to my car and save 15 minutes shoveling it out.
Sometimes I can plan ahead effectively.
We have pretty normal autumn weather in Chicago right now, in that it's gray and cold with temperatures about 3°C below normal. Friday morning, when I fly out, temperatures will fall to 10°C below normal and then 13°C below normal when I get back Tuesday.
We have this ridiculous late-autumn chill because of climate change. Warm air over Greenland and the Grand Banks has distorted the circumpolar jet stream into an omega shape, bringing the Arctic to Canada and the central US and bringing California to Alaska. Check out the map.
I'll just have to drive to O'Hare and leave a winter coat in my car, I suppose.
On Wednesday night it snowed, and the temperature spent several hours below freezing. That caused this to happen:
Those leaves fell en masse from a linden tree in my neighborhood. Which means they won't fall in two weeks when they're bright yellow.
Most of the trees in my neighborhood, and the ivy covering my own building, dropped all their leaves the morning after the snowstorm. So we don't really get an autumn this year. And that makes me sad.
Nature, sometimes you suck.