The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Afternoon news break

Here we go:

Finally, for only $875,000, you can own this contemporary, 2-story house...on top of an 8-story building.

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.

Wow, that's hot

Yesterday, Woodland Hills, Calf., a neighborhood in Los Angeles, recorded its hottest temperature ever:

As a historic heat wave left Southern California broiling, Woodland Hills on Sunday recorded an all-time high of 49.4°C, which the National Weather Service said was the hottest temperature recorded at an official weather station in Los Angeles County.

It broke the old record of 48.3°C set in July of 2006 and was one of several records to fall on Sunday. The NWS said Riverside hit its highest temperature ever for September at 47.2°C; Santa Ana hit a record high for the day at 41.1°C.

Meanwhile, up the coast in the Bay Area, San Francisco (!) topped out at 38.9°C—a little warmer than the 14°C they recorded Saturday morning—and even Half Moon Bay, right on the coast, hit 32°C, which almost never happens. (It's back down to 20°C there right now.)

In case you're wondering, Death Valley hit a cool 50°C around noon yesterday before dropping off to 36°C overnight.

Happy Monday!

Today is the last day of meteorological summer, and by my math we really have had the warmest summer ever in Chicago. (More on that tomorrow, when it's official.) So I, for one, am happy to see it go.

And yet, so many things of note happened just in the last 24 hours:

Finally, Josh Marshall reminds everyone that Democrats are nervous about the upcoming election because we're Democrats. It's kind of in our blood.

While Garmin tries to fix its Cloudflare setup...

I'm glad I took a long walk yesterday and not today, because of this:

In other news:

  • State health officials warn that suburban Cook County (the immediate suburbs surrounding Chicago) has experienced a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, and placed it and 29 other counties on warning that social restrictions could resume next week.
  • Moreover, Covid-19 leads in a massive wave of excess deaths reported by the Cook County Medical Examiner this week. Suicides, homicides, and overdoses are also at near-record levels.
  • Jonathan Russo, writing in TPM Cafe, lays out the case that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin got what he wanted with his meddling in the 2016 US elections, and stands to gain even more if the president wins (or somehow achieves) re-election.
  • The nationalist, right-wing disease has started to infect Canada as well, as their new Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole has adopted a "Canada First" platform.
  • Graceland Cemetery, which doubles as an arboretum, will be closed for the longest period in its 160-year history because of damage from the August 10th derecho.
  • Mother Jones obtained video from a 10 December 2015 deposition showing Donald Trump boasting about his lack of ethics and ignorance of the law.

Finally, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called for an end to Daylight Saving Time—not just the twice-annual time changes associated with the practice.

Out for a walk

Today is not only a Saturday, it's also the first day all week under 32°C. So I took a little 26 km walk around the neighborhood. It felt good, and I maintained a Chicago Marathon-qualifying pace throughout. I also underestimated my water needs by half, so I've drunk about two liters since I got home.

And now, I must go to the store. Yay.

Road trips in American literature

Atlas Obscura published a map of 1,500 places mentioned in 12 books about American cross-country travel:

The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.

To be included, a book needed to have a narrative arc matching the chronological and geographical arc of the trip it chronicles. It needed to be non-fictional, or, as in the case of On the Road, at least told in the first-person. To anticipate a few objections: Lolita’s road-trip passages are scattered and defiant of cartographical order; The Grapes of Wrath’s are brief compared to the sections about poverty and persecution in California; the length of the trip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is short in the geographical sense even if it is prodigiously vast in every other; and yes, The Dharma Bums is On the Road’s equal in every respect, and if you want to map the place-name references in all of Kerouac’s books, I salute you.

Now I've got to read all these books...or follow these trails...

How hot was it really?

Geographer Randy Cerveny heads up an ad hoc committee of the World Meteorological Organisation tasked with validating weather records:

Since 2007, Cerveny has been in charge of organizing ad hoc committees to independently verify superlative weather measurements — such as the highest ocean wave or the strongest wind gust.

Now, when a new contender for a record appears, he gathers the top experts in any given subject.

"If we're looking at temperature, I'm going to get some of the best scientists that have looked at temperature across the world. If we're looking at hurricanes, I'll get hurricane experts. If I'm looking at tornadoes, I'll get tornado experts," he says.

Already, the new 54.4°C measurement in Death Valley has started to be scrutinized, by meteorologists from the local weather office to the National Climate Extremes Committee, all the way up to the World Meteorological Organization.

"We're in the process right now of getting ahold of the actual raw information, the raw data itself," says Cerveny. "My committee will then go over it with a fine-tooth comb and look for any problems or any concerns that they might have."

"I'm hoping that we would have a decision by sometime this winter," he adds.

We'll stay tuned, then.

The A/C seems broken

It got a little warm in Death Valley, Calif., yesterday:

In the midst of a historic heat wave in the West, the mercury in Death Valley, Calif., surged to a searing 54.4°C on Sunday afternoon, possibly setting a world record for the highest temperature ever observed during the month of August.

If the temperature is valid, it would also rank among the top-three highest temperatures ever measured on the planet at any time and may, in fact, be the highest.

Death Valley famously holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, which is 56.7°C. This record was set on July 10, 1913. However, that measurement is very much in question; an extensive analysis of that record conducted in 2016 by Christopher Burt, an expert on extreme weather data, concluded it was “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

The National Weather Service has since started a Twitter thread about the record.