The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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.

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.

Still no snow

With tomorrow's forecast 16°C temperatures, Chicago will end meterological winter having had just a trace of snow in February and less than half our usual amount of snow since the season began December 1st. Since records began in 1884, only five other winter months have had so little snow. We also could have the third-warmest February in history with an average temperature of 3.4°C—just 0.4°C cooler than the record set in February 1882.

Of course, we could get snow in March. Best not to think about that right now.

Items of note

Things to read later:

Back to work.

Third time running: warmest year ever

Not that the incoming administration cares:

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The heat extremes were especially pervasive in the Arctic, with temperatures in the fall running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal across large stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice in that region has been in precipitous decline for years, and Arctic communities are already wrestling with enormous problems, such as rapid coastal erosion, caused by the changing climate.

Since 1880, NOAA’s records show only one other instance when global temperature records were set three years in a row: in 1939, 1940 and 1941. The Earth has warmed so much in recent decades, however, that 1941 now ranks as only the 37th-warmest year on record.

Meanwhile, in Chicago this January week, it feels like March.

Longing for the halcyon days of James Watt

Trump has outdone himself with this doozy of a cabinet nomination:

Donald Trump intends to select Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a senior transition official confirmed to NBC News Wednesday — the clearest sign yet the president-elect will pursue an agenda that could undo President Obama's climate change legacy.

An ally to the fossil fuel industry, Pruitt has aggressively fought against environmental regulations, becoming one of a number of attorneys general to craft a 28-state lawsuit against the Obama administration's rules to curb carbon emissions. The case is currently awaiting a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which heard oral arguments in September.

Pruitt, who questions the impact of climate change, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, penned an op-ed in the Tulsa World earlier this year that called criticism they've received "un-American."

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall raises the alarm that having four (or five) recently-retired generals in top national security positions is not normal, for very good reasons. He concludes, "as a pattern, a government dominated by recently retired generals is a very negative development. Even if the nominees in question are not part of his thinking, there's little doubt that Trump's decision to nominate so many generals is rooted in a mix of his own lack of military service and his instinctive inability to think of relations between people or nations as anything but ones of domination."

It just keeps looking more and more like 1933.

The constant drumbeat of stupidity and cupidity

Tales in the war against reality waged by Trump and his party:

And yet, James Fallows sees cause for optimism (assuming Trump doesn't blow up the world):

In [the election's] calamitous effects—for climate change, in what might happen in a nuclear standoff, for race relations—this could indeed be as consequential a “change” election as the United States has had since 1860. But nothing about the voting patterns suggests that much of the population intended upheaval on this scale. “Change” elections drive waves of incumbents from office. This time only two senators, both Republicans, lost their seats.

[C]ity by city, and at the level of politics where people’s judgments are based on direct observation rather than media-fueled fear, Americans still trust democratic processes and observe long-respected norms. As I argued in a cover story last year, most American communities still manage to compromise, invest and innovate, make long-term plans.

Given the atrophy of old-line media with their quaint regard for truth, the addictive strength of social media and their unprecedented capacity to spread lies, and the cynicism of modern politics, will we ever be able to accurately match image with reality? The answer to that question will determine the answer to another: whether this election will be a dire but survivable challenge to American institutions or an irreversible step toward something else.

Only 698 days until the 2018 election...

Second-warmest autumn in Illinois history

The Illinois State Climatologist reports on the autumn season, which for meteorologists ended Wednesday:

This was the 5th warmest November on record for Illinois, based on preliminary data. The statewide average temperature was 8.6°C, and 2.7°C above normal.

It was also the 2nd warmest fall on record for Illinois. The statewide average temperature for fall was 15.2°C, 2.8°C above normal. Only the fall of 1931 was warmer at 15.4°C The climatological fall months are September, October, and November.

It was an absolutely beautiful season here. That's one of the benefits to Chicago of anthropomorphic climate change.