Now that I'm more than two weeks past my second Pfizer jab, I'm heading to O'Hare tomorrow for the first time since January 2020. I remember back in September 2018 when I finally broke my longest-ever drought from flying of 221 days. Tomorrow will mark 481 days grounded.
But that's tomorrow. Today, I'm interested in the following:
And finally, Chicago's endangered piping plovers Monty and Rose have laid three eggs. We should see baby piping plovers in about four weeks.
The four-year, $40m Navy Pier flyover finally opened this week after 7 years and $64m:
The $64 million flyover, started in 2014, was originally planned for a ribbon-cutting in 2018 but it was repeatedly delayed. The 1,750-foot-long, 16-foot-wide steel and concrete flyover goes from Ohio Street Beach to the south side of the Chicago River.
City officials have blamed prior delays both on issues with the Lake Shore Drive bridge and a delay in getting funding from the state during the budget crisis under former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
With the substantial completion of the Flyover, built to keep pedestrians and bicyclists from being in conflict with auto traffic, the Lakefront Trail now runs, uninterrupted, from Hollywood Avenue to 71st Street, according to the city.
Block Club Chicago has photos.
The biggest budget increase came when engineers discovered that the original plan to tunnel through the southeast Lake Shore Drive bridge tower would have cut a load-bearing column. But like so much in Chicago, the biggest delay came from our incompetent and ideologically-blinkered former governor refusing to fund the state government for two years.
But hey, it's open now, so bikes and runners no longer take their lives into their hands crossing the off-ramp from Lake Shore Drive to Grand Avenue.
Spring has gone on spring break this week, so while I find the weather pleasant and enjoyable, it still feels like mid-March. That makes it more palatable to remain indoors for lunch and catch up on these stories:
And finally, via Bruce Schneier, Australia has proposed starting cyber-security training in Kindergartens.
Travel in the US just got slightly easier now that the Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline to get REAL ID cards to May 2023. Illinois just started making them a year ago, but you have to go to a Secretary of State office in person to get one. Due to Covid-19, the lines at those facilities often stretch to the next facility a few kilometers away.
Reading that made me happier than reading most of the following:
And finally, Ravinia has announced its schedule for this summer, starting on June 4th.
The decennial update of the 30-year US climate normals dropped this afternoon. They show the US has gotten measurably warmer over the 1981-2010 normals:
NOAA’s new U.S. Climate Normals give the public, weather forecasters, and businesses a standard way to compare today’s conditions to 30-year averages. Temperature and precipitation averages and statistics are calculated every decade so we can put today’s weather into proper context and make better climate-related decisions.
Normals are not merely averages of raw data. Thirty years of U.S. weather station observations are compiled, checked for quality, compared to surrounding stations, filled in for missing periods, and used to calculate not only averages, but many other measures. These then provide a basis for comparisons of temperature, precipitation, and other variables to today’s observations.
As anticipated, changes have occurred in averages since the last ten-year update.
For instance, the north-central U.S. Temperature Normals—for those in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest—have cooled from 1981–2010 to 1991–2020, especially in the spring. The South and Southwest are considerably warmer. Normals were also generally warmer across the West and along the East Coast.Precipitation-wise, the Southwest was drier; wetter averages emerged in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, especially the Southeast in the spring.
[L]ong-term trends from decade to decade can affect baseline “normal” weather conditions. For instance, the last decade includes the warmest seven years on record for the globe, according to NCEI.
Chicago got just a little warmer and just a little wetter, as anticipated. Southwest Texas got much warmer and dryer. And Florida is still part of the US. Two of these things are suboptimal.
And if you aren't sure climate change is happening, check this out:
On my horizontal monitor, I'm watching Apollo After Hours 2021, our chorus's annual benefit. Last year we deployed the 7pm video about now. This year we deployed it yesterday.
I've spent the last six years working very hard to spread the gospel of boring software deployments. I'm overjoyed that we had one this year with Apollo After Hours.
After languishing for four years while former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R-of course) refused to govern, Metra's Peterson/Ridge station project...has stalled again:
Crews for Metra were slated to break ground in May on the train station at Peterson and Ravenswood avenues. Due to a permitting issue with the city, work will be delayed by roughly three to five months, said Joe Ott, director of Metra’s construction department.
If the permits take any longer to secure, major construction on the new station could be pushed to spring 2022, he said.
The problem is that the ground beneath the station holds city water mains, and the city’s Department of Water Management was worried about groundwater from the station leaking into the water mains, he said. The city agency said the project’s groundwater system needs revision before a permit will be granted.
It is just the latest setback for a project first announced in 2012.
The project fell by the wayside during the state’s years-long budget impasse. Local officials said in 2017 funding for the project was nearly secured, but a $1 billion fund earmarked for Metra was slashed in half that year.
At least they've cleared the vacant lot connecting where the station will go. Apparently they've also put up a sign. It's a start, I suppose.
In tangential news, Amtrak announced that it will offer tickets up to 50% off to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. I wish my travel plans would allow me to take a long train trip somewhere.
The wind shifted abruptly just before 6pm last night by my house, bringing with it a remarkable drop in temperatures. I live about 1½ km from Lake Michigan, which (with Lake Huron, hydrologically the same body of water) is the second-largest fresh-water lake in the world. In the summer, it keeps Chicago cool. In the winter, it keeps Chicago warm. In the spring, it keeps Chicago paying attention to the weather forecast.
Exhibit 1, temperatures near O'Hare at 6pm yesterday. Note the 13.3°C gap between Chicago and Wheeling, which are just 13 km apart:
Exhibit 2, when the cold front finally reached O'Hare around 8pm:
One tends to notice when the temperature drops 15.6°C (that's 28°F for you philistines out there) in less than an hour.
In other news, after tying a record high temperature yesterday (30.6°C, tied with 1986), today my home office is actually quite comfortable.
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:
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.