Late winter and early spring in Chicago have always had some ups and downs in temperature. This year, with a week left to go in meteorological winter, has been nuts.
It got down to -2.8°C just before 8am today. That's not too far from normal—for March 8th. But here are the temperatures over the past 10 days:
|Tue Feb 20
|Mon Feb 19
|Sun Feb 18
|Sat Feb 17
|Fri Feb 16
|Thu Feb 15
|Wed Feb 14
|Tue Feb 13
|Mon Feb 12
|Sun Feb 11
But looked at another way, using the normal temperatures for each day in Chicago, we've been all over the calendar:
|Tue Feb 20
|Mon Feb 19
|Sun Feb 18
|Sat Feb 17
|Fri Feb 16
|Thu Feb 15
|Wed Feb 14
|Tue Feb 13
|Mon Feb 12
|Sun Feb 11
In other words, yesterday's high temperature felt like April 30th; the low felt like March 30th; but the overall temperature of the day felt like May 19th. (Where it says "Brrr!" the temperature was below the normal temperature for any day of the year. In other words, it felt like mid-January on a bad day.) Also: nice going, February 16th! Totally normal day in February.
I should point out, these are the 1981-2010 normals. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to recalculate these values using earlier normal sets; 1951-1980 would be particularly interesting, I should think.
It's all part of the fun in a continental climate that has tons more energy, and thus volatility, than it had in centuries past. And thanks to continued anthropogenic climate change, we will continue to have winters that whipsaw between frigid and spring-like for a few decades, until Chicago's climate settles into a subtropical pattern where it rarely freezes. If you remember what Tennessee or North Carolina was like 50 years ago, that's where Chicago is headed 50 years from now.
What a day. I thought I'd have more time to catch up on reading up to this point, but life intervened. So an hour from now, when I'm cut off from all telecommunications for 9 hours, I plan to sleep. And if I wake, I'll read these articles that I'm leaving open in Chrome:
And now, I head to my airplane.
The temperature poked its head all the way up to 14°C this morning and has otherwise held steady around 13°C since yesterday evening. That means it's a full 37°C warmer—yes, the difference between freezing and typical human body temperature—than January 1st (-23°C).
Unfortunately, a cold front will bring Canadian cold through Chicago this evening, dropping the temperature 20°C overnight and another 5°C (to around -14°C) by Saturday night.
So picking the right coat this morning was more challenging than one might think.
And this, by the way, is a predicted result of anthropogenic climate change: weather extremes, from unseasonably warm to unseasonably cold, in the winter—but only in some places. Because right now, the northern hemisphere is way, way warmer than normal:
While Catalonia starts a civil war in Spain, and glaciers in the Antarctic advance more and more rapidly each year, it's good to know that Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks can agree on something.
Sullivan: "This is what the Trump abyss looks like."
Brooks: "This is the week Trump won."
It's not really that bad. But it sure feels like it.
Too much to read today, especially during an hours-long download from our trips over the past two weeks. So I'll come back to these:
But more seriously:
Lunch break is over.
On the southwest coast of Ireland, County Kerry's local newspaper warns that post-tropical storm Ophelia will hit within the hour with "violent and destructive gusts forecast with all areas at risk."
Galway schools are closed an Irish defence forces are being deployed throughout the area:
The Department of Education has ordered schools across Galway to close tomorrow as a red weather warning remains in place for the county.
It follows a special meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning this afternoon to discuss preparations for Hurricane Ophelia.
GMIT is also to close all of its campuses across Galway – while NUI Galway says it is currently assessing the threat and will make a decision at 7 this evening.
Meanwhile, the City Council says Hurricane Ophelia does not currently pose a strong flood risk.
In a statement, the local authority says while there will be a storm sea surge in Galway Bay, the overall tidal level is predicted to be below the critical level for flooding.
It adds it will continue to monitor the situation and further defences and other measures will be put in place if required.
Meanwhile the storm track seems to have shifted west, so that Islay and Campbelltown are not directly in Ophelia's path; but not entirely safe either:
Three battalions of soldiers are on permanent standby to deal with major incidents in the UK, but the Ministry of Defence said no specific requests had yet been made of them by local authorities.
The Republic of Ireland's Met Office predicts coastal areas will be hit by winds in excess of 80mph (130km/h) from 09:00 BST on Monday until Tuesday and is warning against unnecessary travel.
Gerald Fleming, head of its general forecasting division, told Irish broadcaster RTE: "The track is very consistent [and] has been for days.
"The strongest winds [will be] along the south coast.
"That'll be tomorrow morning, and it'll track up the centre again, going up along the western part of the country."
BBC Weather said Monday would be a "day of huge contrasts" with the strong gusts of wind travelling over the Irish Sea and heading north to central and southern Scotland, sparing eastern parts of the UK.
Eastern England is instead expected to enjoy unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures of 22C or 23C on Monday - compared with an average for mid-October of 15C.
Highs of 24C were recorded in the region on Saturday as some parts of the country basked in a "mini heatwave" thanks to warm air brought by Hurricane Ophelia
I hope the people I met in Ireland and Scotland over the years get through this once-per-century storm with their wits about them—and their houses. Good luck.
Another Atlantic hurricane is heading towards another place I've visited recently. Hurricane Ophelia, now churning in the eastern Atlantic, should reach the south coast of—not kidding—Ireland tomorrow morning as a tropical storm, and a few hours later roll over Islay.
This year’s busy and bizarre hurricane season isn’t done stunning scientists. The latest named storm, Ophelia, is now the sixth major hurricane to form in the Atlantic this year, and the 10th consecutive named storm to reach hurricane strength this year — only the third time in recorded history and the first time in a century that has happened — tying the all-time single-year record. On top of all that, no major hurricane has ever formed as far east as Ophelia has. The storm intensified so far east, in fact, that the continent it now threatens is Europe. Ophelia reached category 3 strength 220 miles south of the Azores on Saturday morning, and is now on track to strike Ireland beginning Monday.
While it won’t still be a hurricane by the time it reaches the British Isles — Ophelia is forecast to have become an extratropical storm before then — it will probably still arrive as “a destructive windstorm in Ireland on par with some of the most damaging in the nation’s history,” according to Henson, with winds as high as 70 mph along the island’s southwest coast. A “status red” alert, Ireland’s highest, has been issued for five counties in that region. Storm surge flooding along the coast is possible, but the biggest threat will be from the high winds.
I mean, this is just weird:
President Trump on Tuesday told Puerto Rico officials they should feel “very proud” they haven’t lost thousands of lives like in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” while adding that the devastated island territory has thrown the nation’s budget “a little out of whack.”
“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said, before turning to a local official to ask how many people had died in storm. “What is your death count as of this moment? 17? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands.”
“I think it’s now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done, and people are looking at that,” he said. “And in Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus. And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared, communications is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks.”
Video, just in case anyone is making up quotes that show the President as a sociopathic man-child:
It's one thing to make a joke. It's quite another to make a joke like that, in that place, when so many people are already unhappy with your cavalier attitude.
The New York Times talked to people on the American island of Vieques and has this report on the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria two weeks ago:
The 9,000 people living on this island eight miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland have been largely cut off from the world for 11 days since Hurricane Maria hit, with no power or communications and, for many, no running water. People scan the skies and the sea hoping to sight the emergency aid that has been arriving drip by drip, on boats, in helicopters or in the bellies of eight-seat propeller planes.
“We’re on this island, we can’t get off it,” Aleida Tolentino, 56, said on Saturday, as she gazed out over the brown hillsides of uprooted trees and branches stripped of every leaf, with rain rolling in from the east.
The grinding lack of electricity and communications services has created archipelagos of isolation across Puerto Rico. Dozens of towns and neighborhoods, from the coffee-growing mountains to the industrial shoals of the capital, are now virtual islands unto themselves, stranded by destroyed roads, downed cables and splintered cellphone towers.
Even death is an emergency. On Saturday morning, Marlon Esquilín, the funeral director in Isabel Segunda, opened the doors of his hearse to pull out the blackbagged body of an older woman who had died of natural causes the night before.
Someone stole his generator, so he has no power to embalm bodies, and no way to keep them cold in storage. The hospital’s backup generator was also stolen, he said, so he cannot keep bodies there either.
The island has been blasted back to the 19th Century. If only it were part of the United States, then maybe we could help them. Oh, wait...
Chicago is having its 7th consecutive day of 32°C-plus heat, including 5 straight days above 33°C, a new record for this late in the season. Fortunately, a cold front is marching across the prairie and promises to bring a 15°C temperature drop overnight and high temperatures in the 20s for the rest of the week.
We didn't have a horrible summer here. So we're not thrilled that the crisp, cool days of autumn have been delayed a full month. But tomorrow we can open our windows again.