The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Welcome to Summer 2021

The northern hemisphere started meteorological summer at midnight local time today. Chicago's weather today couldn't have turned out better. Unfortunately, I go into the office on the first and last days of each week, so I only know about this from reading weather reports.

At my real job, we have a release tomorrow onto a completely new Azure subscription, so for only the second time in 37 sprints (I hope) I don't expect a boring deployment. Which kind of fits with all the decidedly-not-boring news that cropped up today:

  • The XPOTUS and his wackier supporters have a new conspiracy theory about him retaking office in a coup d'état this August. No, really.
  • In what could only 100% certainly no doubt how could you even imagine a coincidence, former White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning.
  • Also uncoincidentally, a group of 100 historians and political scientists who study this sort of thing have put out a statement warning of imminent democratic collapse in the US. “The playbook that the Republican Party is executing at the state and national levels is very much consistent with actions taken by illiberal, anti-democratic, anti-pluralist parties in other democracies that have slipped away from free and fair elections,” according to the Post.
  • Speaking of democratic backsliding, Josh Marshall takes the Israeli cognoscenti to task for still not getting how much the Israeli government aligning with an American political party has hurt them.
  • Here in Illinois, the state legislature adjourned after completing a number of tasks, including passing a $46 billion budget that no one got to read before they voted on it. (I'm doubly incensed about this because my own party did it. We really need to be better than the other guys. Seriously.)
  • For the first time since March 2020, Illinois has no states on its mandatory quarantine list. And we reported the fewest new Covid-19 cases (401) since we started reporting them.
  • The Northalsted Business Alliance wants to change the name of Chicago's Boystown neighborhood to...Northalsted. Residents across the LGBTQ spectrum say "just, no."

Finally, a Texas A&M business professor expects a "wave of resignations" as people go back to their offices.

Draining the lake

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron water levels have dropped every month for the last 10, to about 60 cm below last July's record levels. The lake system is still about 60 cm above its mean level, but at least we can see our beaches again:

The receding water has been welcomed by some beach towns and lakefront parks that weathered destruction in recent years. A group of Great Lakes officials estimated at least $500 million of damage in cities last year.

The shift doesn’t mean shoreline communities are in the clear. Many are still working to preserve what’s left of disappearing bluffs, repair crumbling paths or get ahead of the next rise.

Changes in water level are driven by precipitation, runoff and evaporation. Lake Michigan topped the long-term average in 2014 and last year set a string of monthly records, hovering near the 1986 record high. Highs and lows have come and gone throughout the historical record, and climate change may bring increasing variability between the swings. But it’s still too early to say if the lower trend will continue.

The Park District has also, finally, repaired the fences at Montrose Beach, to the delight of lake-loving dogs all over the city.

Wednesday evening roundup

Happy Wednesday! Here's what I'm reading before my 8pm meeting, now that my 6:30pm meeting just ended:

And finally, the New Yorker's Tom Papa introduces you to "asshole cat behaviors."

My, it's warm

Sunday evening we had 4°C gloominess with gusty winds. Today we've got 28°C sunniness with gusty winds. We've also got a bunch of news stories to glance through while a build completes:

Cassie has plotzed on the sofa, probably from the heat and from spending all day yesterday at doggy day care.

And here's the CDC's latest chart:

Welcome back, kids

Endangered piping plovers Monty and Rose have returned to Chicago's Montrose Beach for the third year running:

The pair of endangered, migratory Great Lakes piping plovers have been spotted at Montrose Beach, the couple’s preferred mating ground for their third straight summer. The female Rose was discovered near the beach and natural dune area Sunday, while Monty’s presence at the North Side lakefront park was confirmed Monday afternoon, local birder Bob Dolgan said.

“It’s very exciting,” Dolgan said. “There are no guarantees when birds are traveling 1,000 miles. Hopefully this is the start of another successful summer for the birds.”

The bird couple has successfully nested along the beach for the last two years. Their first effort to nest at the beach resulted in a conservation effort, which caused beach volleyball games to be relocated and a music festival to be canceled.

Last year, the birds had the beach free of human interaction, as much of Chicago’s lakefront was off-limits during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

But this year’s effort could be aided by the Chicago Park District’s recent decision to expand the plovers’ favored nesting grounds.

Earlier this month, the Park District approved a plan to add just over three acres of Montrose Beach to the adjacent Montrose Dune Natural Area. The beach’s easternmost portion — which Monty and Rose have chosen as their yearly nesting and foraging ground — has been absorbed into the natural area.

Monty and Rose, sittin' in a tree...or on the ground...whatevs. Nice to have them back.

Catching up

Even though things have quieted down in the last few days (gosh, why?), the news are still newing:

Finally, last August's derecho caused "the most damage in the least amount of time" of any weather disaster on record.

How is it already 4pm?

I've had an unusually busy (and productive!) day, so naturally, the evening reading has piled up:

Finally, National Geographic has a slideshow of the world's best ghost towns.

Weather, just more of it

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.

Record confirmed by the pros

The Chicago Tribune's Frank Wachowski concurs with the Daily Parker: 2020 was the warmest summer in Chicago history:

To be sure, there have been many summers with hotter individual temperatures (2012, 1995, 1988 come to mind) but the warmth this summer has been persistent, especially at night where many warm overnight low temperatures have been observed. 

But when you average out all the high and low temperatures this summer since June 1, the 24.8°C degree average temperature for 2020 just edges out 1955’s record of 24.6°C degrees for top honors. Summer 2020 also finishes 2.7°C degrees above the normal average.  

What’s more, there have been 31 days at or above 32°C at O’Hare this year to date, while the “normal” number of 32°C or higher temps in a year here is just 17, meaning we recorded 182 percent as many over-32°C as normal.  

Today, the first day of meteorological autumn, will be cool and damp, as befits fall.

Oh, and let's not forget, August saw the 8th consecutive month of record-high water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron:

Calling it: Hottest summer in history

With today's high temperature at O'Hare (29°C) coming in slightly above forecast—as it has almost every day this week—I can now state with confidence that 2020's was the hottest summer ever in Chicago. By my figures, we hit an average daily temperature of 24.8°C, 0.2°C above the record set in 1955.

The string of 6 days above 32°C from the 23rd to the 28th put us over the top, so that even the weekend's milder temperatures couldn't bring us back under the line.

Congratulations?

Oh, and this is the blog's 7,501st post since May 1998. Look for the 8,000th next July.