The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lazy Sunday

Other than making a hearty beef stew, I have done almost nothing of value today. I mean, I did some administrative work, and some chorus work, and some condo board work. But I still haven't read a lick of the books I've got lined up, nor did I add the next feature to the Weather Now 5 app.

I did read these, though:

  • An Illinois state judge has enjoined the entire state from imposing mask mandates on schools, just as NBC reports that anti-vaxxer "influencers" are making bank off their anti-social followers.
  • Across the border, Canadians, generally a less sociopathic lot than American conservatives, have run out of patience with their own anti-vax protestors.
  • The Washington Post demonstrates how the worst gerrymanders in the US work—like the one here in Illinois.
  • Local bicyclists have had enough of winter, blaming the city for filling bike lanes with slush. But...the city didn't make it snow, right?

OK, back to doing nothing. Cassie, at least, is getting a lot of attention.

The numbers are better but the feelings aren't

Last night I went to the "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" taping at Harris Theater in Chicago, and afterwards my friend and I talked about how gloomy the weather and darkness of winter are. I pointed out to her that tomorrow, February 5th, the sun rises at 7:00 for the first time since November 15th, and we've got 55 minutes more daylight than we had at the solstice six weeks ago. In other words, yes, it still gets dark early and we get up most weekdays before dawn, but things have already improved since the darkest days of December. And we get another hour of daylight only three weeks from now, on February 27th.

Same with the weather. Temperatures in Chicago lag the seasons by about a month, which gives us our hottest days at the end of July and our coldest at the end of January. But despite all the snow on the ground and the likelihood of below-freezing temperatures until Tuesday, the worst part of winter really is behind us. February is, on average, noticeably warmer than January. March warmer still. Spring starts 23 days from now no matter what today's weather looks like.

And, of course, same with Covid-19. While we still have Covid jerks like former half-term Alaska governor Sarah "Rogue" Palin, along with masking recommendations that seem to change more frequently than people can follow (but, really, don't change much at all), the numbers have plummeted recently.

Things get better before you notice them getting better. Happy thought for Friday.

Still snowing...

We only got about 50 mm of snow overnight, but the second wave came in the morning and hasn't stopped. And yet, not everyone cares about the natural disaster unfolding around us:

She followed up on her romp this morning by eating my earmuffs. Sigh.

Impressive lightning

While we wait for the snow to start falling, the World Meteorological Organisation announced today that a lightning flash on 29 April 2020 extended for 768 km across three states and lasted for 10 seconds:

The new record for the longest detected megaflash distance is 60 kilometres more than the previous record, with a distance of 709 ± 8 km (440.6 ± 5 mi) across parts of southern Brazil on 31 October 2018. Both the previous and new record used the same maximum great circle distance methodology to measure flash extent.

The new record strikes occurred in hotspots for Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) thunderstorms, whose dynamics permit extraordinary megaflashes to occur – namely, the Great Plains in North America, and the La Plata basin in South America.

The Post has more.

Meanwhile, the temperature at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters seems to have peaked at 7.6°C, and it has started to rain. Cassie and I got in from our walk before it got really gross out.

Bracing for impact

We seem to get our worst snowstorms during the first week of February. A big one has formed southeast of here, and though forecasters know it will hit the Chicago area tonight, they don't know exactly where:

The majority of the snow is expected to fall beginning around 6 p.m. Tuesday and continuing through most of the day Wednesday, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Romeoville. As much as 8 inches to 1 foot of snow could fall in the Chicago area and points south.

Forecasters said the storm will come with a sharp gradient, meaning areas nearby could get drastically different amounts of snow. Residents of the northwest suburbs may not get any snow accumulation, meteorologists said.

At the moment we have hazy but sunny skies and 5.5°C, the warmest we've had since the 18th, when it got up to 5.9°C. One forecast says we'll get 7°C by noon, another says we'll get rain by 3...who knows? But by this time tomorrow, either we'll have a ton more snow on the ground or we won't.

Update: National Weather Service Chicago published this graphic earlier:

The next forecast should come out in about an hour or so.

Just missed the snow

I'm waiting for my flight home at the Raleigh-Durham airport, watching Jim Cantore in Boston. You never want to see Cantore in your home town: it means horrible, rotten, no-good weather. The only nice thing about Boston's weather this morning is that the snow has moved on—for now:

Boston received 23.6 inches [600 mm] of snow Saturday, tying its record for a one-day snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

We haven't seen 600 mm of snow in one day in Chicago ever. Even in the Blizzard of 1967, 55 years ago this week, we only got 503 mm, and in February 2011 we set the record at 508 mm.

And I said "for now" because another storm may hit the East Coast next weekend...

Context (winter weather edition)

The coffee shop I went to about an hour ago had a sign that said, "Snow day - open at 10am." It did, in fact, snow overnight here. And some of the sidewalks were, in fact, icy.

But the temperature only got down to one degree below freezing, it snowed less than 20 mm, and none of it stuck to the roads. Ah, North Carolina in winter, bless your heart!

Fun weather for travel

We got about 150 mm of snow this morning, thanks to the giant lake a short walk from my house. This made getting Cassie to school a slog (she loved it, though), and made me seriously worry about my flight this evening.

Now it's sunny, and the roads are clear.

If only I knew how many parking spaces O'Hare had right now...

I think I can, I think I can

C'mon, Chicago...only a little ways left to hit -10°C...you can do it...

The bottom of that curve (-19.4°C) coincided perfectly with Cassie's first walk this morning. We made it around the block in 10 minutes, but she clearly wanted to go back inside most of the way.

The forecast says it'll keep going up slowly until about 3pm tomorrow, when it starts sliding again, just not as far as it did last night. And Tuesday might even stay above freezing all day!

Three notable recent deaths

In no particular order:

  • Dale Clevenger played French horn for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 2013. He was 81.
  • Sheldon Silver went to jail for taking bribes while New York Assembly Speaker. He was 77.
  • Lisa Goddard made climate predictions that came true, to the horror of everyone who denies anthropogenic climate change. She was 55.

In a tangential story, the New Yorker profiles author Kim Stanley Robinson, who has written several novels about climate change. (Robinson hasn't died, though; don't worry.)