The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Hottest day in modern humanity

Monday was the hottest day on the planet in 125,000 years. Yesterday was hotter:

Tuesday was the hottest day on Earth since at least 1979, with the global average temperature reaching 17.18°C, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Tuesday’s global average temperature was calculated by a model that uses data from weather stations, ships, ocean buoys and satellites, Paulo Ceppi, a climate scientist at London’s Grantham Institute, explained in an email Wednesday. This modeling system has been used to estimate daily average temperatures starting in 1979.

“This is our ‘best guess’ of what the surface temperature at each point on earth was yesterday,” he said.

Instrument-based global temperature records go back to the mid-19th century, but for temperatures before that, scientists are dependent on proxy data captured through evidence left in tree rings and ice cores. “These data tell us that it hasn’t been this warm since at least 125,000 years ago, which was the previous interglacial,” Ceppi said, referring to a period of unusual warmth between two ice ages.

Because of the El Nino building in the Pacific, the normal seasonal warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, and human-caused climate change, we can expect more records as the summer goes on. Nice work, people.

A little fall of rain

Yesterday's rain in Chicago set a few records:

Sunday’s heavy rain poured upward of 200 mm in Berwyn, Cicero and Garfield Park, according to preliminary reports from weather officials, sending residents in search of supplies to clean up flooded homes.

The National Weather Service said that daily rainfall totals ranged from 75 to 175 mm in the immediate Chicago area after “extended rounds of heavy/torrential rainfall.”

The preliminary data came from radar estimates, personal weather stations and rain gauges. Official information will be released over the next few days, weather officials said.

O’Hare International Airport broke the record for daily rainfall on Sunday, recording 85 mm of rain. The previous record was 52 mm in July 1982.

Yesterday's rain didn't even come close to the record 24-hour rainfall that ruined a summer party I'd planned for weeks on 13-14 August 1987. That day we got 238 mm of rain and a flooded basement.

Walkies deficit

Because of yesterday's rain, poor Cassie only got 23 minutes of walkies yesterday—almost all of it in drenching rain. I went through two towels drying her off after each of her walks. And of course, because she was (a) being rained on and (b) couldn't smell anything, it took her way more time than I preferred to find where to do her job.

For my part, I really got a close shave on my step count:

Today we have blue skies, sun, and a forecast high of 23°C: perfection. (The AQI is down to 47, too.) I have to do a few hours of work for a freelance client and get a bag of kibble, but other than that, I plan to take Cassie on several walks worthy of my dog.

No hurry to get to Ravinia tonight

I've got tickets to see Straight No Chaser with some chorus friends at Ravinia Park tonight—on the lawn. Unfortunately, for the last 8 hours or so, our weather radar has looked like this:

I haven't got nearly as much disappointment as the folks sitting in Grant Park right now waiting for a NASCAR race that will never happen in this epic rainfall. (I think Mother Nature is trying to tell NASCAR something. Or at least trying to tell Chicago NASCAR fans something. Hard to tell.)

While I'm waiting to see if it will actually stop raining before my train leaves at 5:49pm, I have this to read:

I am happy the roofers finished my side of my housing development already. The people across the courtyard have discovered the temporary waterproofing was a bit more temporary than the roofers intended.

Chicago air quality worst in the world today

Chicago has an air quality alert right now as the World Air Quality Index lists us first (last?) in the world for worst air quality:

Canadian wildfire smoke pouring into Chicago has made its air quality the worst in the world Tuesday.

The World Air Quality Index ranked Chicago as the worst for air quality, with Dubai, Minneapolis, Jakarta and Doha, Indonesia rounding out the top 5. Chicago’s air is labeled an “unhealthy” 172 by the index.

The National Weather Service blamed the conditions and low visibility on the wildfire smoke that has wafted down from Canada and impacted large regions of the U.S. The service suggested limiting prolonged outdoor activities.

The problem is predicted to last through the day Tuesday.

I haven't seen air quality like this since I visited Los Angeles in the early 1980s:

A low cloud layer hung over the area until just a few minutes ago, but as you can see from this GOES-East image, we've got thick enough smoke that it almost makes now difference:

I just snapped this photo from my office door:

(I'd send up my drone but it's a bit too windy.)

People wonder what anthropogenic climate change looks like. Well, here it is.

Late lunch

I had a lot going on this morning, so I'm only now snarfing down a Chipotle bowl. Also, I'm going to have to read these things tomorrow:

Finally, today is the 35th anniversary of the best baseball movie of all timeBull Durham. If I had time I'd watch it tonight.

Even smokier

As the wildfires in western Canada continue to burn, we in Chicago continue to live under the smoke plume, going on four days now. NASA's Earth Observatory has art:

Raging fires filled the skies of southern Canada and the northern United States with smoke in mid-May 2023. The fires had scorched 478,000 hectares (1,800 square miles) in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, as of May 16, which is 10-times the average area burned for this time of year.

As of May 16, there were 87 wildland fires burning in Alberta, a quarter of which were classified as out of control, meaning the fires were expected to grow in size. A majority of the 478,000 hectares burned have been in Alberta, according to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System, but several fires were classified as burning out of control on that day in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Wind brought smoke from the fires down to Maryland on May 10, making the Sun look milky in the sky. The AERONET instrument at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland, had an average AOD value of about 1 in visible wavelengths on that day. On May 16, smoke contributed to hazy skies and hazardous air quality in North Dakota and northern Minnesota. An AERONET sensor at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks measured an average AOD of 2.3 on May 16, with peak values close to 3.

Unseasonably hot weather is expected to continue over the next few days in Western Canada. In British Columbia, temperatures are expected to reach 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit) through May 18, according to Environment Canada.

New York Times columnist David Wallace-Wells forecasts a hazy future:

[A] new lesson from the evolving science of wildfire is about how far its toxic smoke spreads and how widely its noxious impacts are distributed. You may think of fire in terms of scorched homes and go bags sitting ready for sudden evacuation. But distance is no cordon sanitaire for smoke. In fact, according to one not-yet-published study led by Stanford researchers exploring the distribution of wildfire smoke, an estimated 60 percent of the smoke impact of American wildfire is experienced by those living outside the states where the trees are in flames. Eighty-seven percent of the impact is experienced by those living outside the county of the original fire. And the problem is getting much worse.

[W]hile Americans often think of wildfires as a California problem, it’s much bigger than that, with more burning elsewhere in the country every year. By some estimates, land burned across the American West grew ninefold between 1984 and 2015. It may increase several more times over in the decades ahead. The number of people exposed to what are sometimes called extreme exposure days — when particulate matter is about seven times as high as the World Health Organization safety standard — has grown 27-fold in just the last decade.

In recent years, wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all air pollution in the American West — meaning that if you live there, as much particulate matter has blown into your skies and your lungs from the burning of trees and brush as from all other human and industrial activity combined. And the grim effects are not locally constrained: Approximately half of American deaths from all forms of air pollution come from out-of-state sources, according to one study published in Nature in 2020 — a finding that implies a remarkably large toll, given that estimates for the total number of premature American deaths attributable to fossil fuel pollution in a given year run as high as 350,000.

Today's layer of smoky haze is pretty high up over Chicago, so my ground-based AQI is a healthy 23. But you might want to reconsider your getaway weekend in Calgary.

Record temperatures

Chicago hit 28.3°C yesterday afternoon, breaking the record of 27.7°C set in 1887 and tied in 1941:

The new high mark lasted for at least three hours Thursday and towered above typical temperatures for mid-April, weather service data showed.

Standard April 13 high marks average 15°C, with lows usually [just above freezing].

But despite summer warmth waiting in the wings, the beach-worthy weather is poised to soon go away, if only temporarily, as another system brings cooler weather to Chicago.

Despite the chilly change, warmth-loving Chicagoans have little to complain about this year. Temperatures were 2.1°C above normal throughout the winter months, another National Weather Service meteorologist told the Tribune last week.

I can't remember turning on the air conditioning this early before, at least not in Chicago. (I've spent time in Richmond, Va., and Houston, Texas before.)

It all goes away tomorrow night, though. Pity.

In other news

Stuff read while waiting for code to compile:

Finally, Chicago Tribune food critic Louisa Chu says I should take a 45-minute drive down to Bridgeview to try some Halal fried chicken—just, maybe, after Ramadan ends.

Ten days to After Hours

The Apollo Chorus annual fundraiser/cabaret is on April 1st, and tickets are still available. If you can't make it, you can still donate.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:

And finally, screenings of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, the new slasher pic featuring Winnie and Piglet as serial killers, will not be shown in Hong Kong and Macau, because Chinese dictator Xi Jinping thinks it's a jab at him. Seriously.