The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Shine a little light on me

The thing I like most about February: at the end of it, Chicago has an hour and a quarter more daylight than at the beginning of it. Today we have 10 hours of daylight, the most since November 10th, and on the 29th we have 11 hours and 14 minutes.

I notice this every year around now, just as I forget every year how grim December can be.

Good explanation of this winter's wacky weather

With yesterday's temperatures more like April than January, Chicago magazine's explanation of it is timely:

So what is going on? It's the warmest La Niña on record. That brings the global temperature down, but causes different effects in different places. Chicago is going through a near-record warm spell—strong La Niñas correlate with above average temperatures, like the 18°C we hit in 1989 when the mean January max was 11°C, 2°C higher than this month's mean. Meanwhile, Alaska and northern Europe are suffering through deadly cold snaps.

This came to me through the WGN weather blog, which in the same story points out that groundhogs are less accurate than random chance at predicting the weather. Just a heads-up for tomorrow.

Happy birthday, car

I can scarcely believe I've had this guy for 10 years:

The car is named João, because he's from Brazil, and he seemed kind of like a Joe: He's a little rough around the edges, he's fun to hang out with, and he's super-reliable—except for the occasional hangover.

The photo is from the day after I got him. He's scarcely aged. (See, for example, this shot from last February. You can kind of see the dings, but he's still got a good profile.)

All you need to know about Newt

Via Sullivan, a snippet of conversation between Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich in the 1990s:

"Why do people take such an instant dislike to me?" asked a perplexed Gingrich, to whom Dole bluntly explained: "Because it saves them time."

In unrelated news, Parker and I are about to walk around in abnormally warm, sunny weather on what is statistically the coldest day of the year in Chicago. This is the warmest winter in 78 years, with the fewest sub-freezing maximum temperatures in 40 years. (Today was above freezing until a cold front edged through this morning; right now it's -1°C.)

Hug your groundhog

Chicago is experiencing the mildest winter in 78 years, which means anyone complaining about the weather lately needs serious mocking:

Though this season has produced some wintry moments, last Friday's snowstorm among them, the vast majority of days---82 percent of them---have posted above normal temperatures. What's more, we could find only 11 winters of the past 141 for which official weather records exist, which have been milder up to this point in time.

Chicago's average temperature since Dec. 1 is running 0.2°C, well above the 141-year average of -2.9°C and a stunning 6.3°C warmer than the same period a year ago. That's a difference which suggests many Chicago area residents have required 17 percent less home heating.

A multi-day burst of frigid arctic air heads into the area in waves late this week into the coming weekend. Any one of them, if fully developed, could produce several inches of snow. The first is due later Friday into Friday night---a second swings into the area just ahead of sharp cooling predicted Saturday into Saturday night.

The arctic chill will come and go fairly expeditiously, as has been the case with previous cold spells all season.

The mild disappointment Parker might feel about our weather this winter does not bother me at all. In Chicago, we say our weather builds character. After [redacted] Chicago winters in my lifetime, with a few in New York, Lisbon, and Raleigh for comparison, I'll take one year off from character-building happily.

Snow problem at all

I'm at O'Hare for the first time this year, wicked early for my flight. This happened because I left lots of time to dig my car out, get Parker sorted, get to the airport, etc. As it turns out, the howling wind cleared my car overnight; there was no traffic; the main roads are already clear because, really, it wasn't that much snow; and when I got to remote parking, an enormous pickup truck pulled out of a parking space, leaving a patch of cleared ground the size of Connecticut. So...I brought a Kindle, and my flight is on time. No stress, no worries, no checked baggage.