The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Record looking shaky...

As of Saturday, it looked like we might break the record for hottest summer ever (average daily temperature 24.7°C) in Chicago, set way back in 1955. If the today's forecast holds, however, we will merely tie the record.

This is actually a good-news, bad-news thing. The good news is: (a) we came just a bit short of breaking the record (36.7°C) for August 26th, and (b) a cold front will push through tomorrow evening, dropping temperatures into the high 20s for the weekend.

You know? I'm OK with not breaking the record. It's 33°C at O'Hare and 32°C at my house right now, and that ignores the 21°C dewpoint that makes even light clothes cleve after walking just a few steps outside. And my electric company sent me an email this morning warning I'm about to have a higher-than-expected electric bill.

Roll on October.

On track for Chicago's hottest summer ever

Chicago experienced its hottest summers (June 1st through August 31st) in 1955 (24.7°C), 1995 (24.6°C), and 2012 (24.5°C). As of Thursday, we've had an average temperature of 24.6°C—already tied for 2nd place. If the 10-day forecast holds, we will end the summer a week from Monday with an average temperature of 24.7°C, tying the 1955 record.

WGN-TV's Tom Skilling explains why we have this situation, despite none of the three months of 2020 making it into the top 3. (Hint: all three made it into the top 5.)

How is it possible this summer ranks among the top tier of warmest summers to date here? What about the deadly heat in summer 1995. Or how about the scorcher of a summer in 1988 with its 47 days with above–32°C and seven days of above–38°C?”

1995’s July heat wave was historic and responsible for the greatest loss of life on the books produced by a natural disaster in the Chicago area–but it occupied a week’s time. It was a single hot period and not reflective of the average temp over the full season through August 19 which came in under this years 24.6°C average to date.

It’s true summer 1988 produced the greatest number of above–32°C and above–38°C of any warm season since official records began in 1871. But summer 1988 produced also produced historic drought. Moisture was so limited in the Summer of ’88 that the drier than normal atmosphere allowed nights which cooled more than usual from the broiling daytime highs. So when the comparatively “cool” nights were averaged with the hot daytime highs, the average summer temps through August 19 came in well below this year’s 24.6°C to date.

So, Chicagoans, neither you nor your air conditioning is wrong. This summer has suuuuuuuucked.

Also, starting in January, we will have new climate normals. Every 10 years climatologists crunch the previous 30 years of data and produce a new set. The 1991-2020 set will almost certainly have higher temperatures and precipitation amounts for most US locations than any previous set, just as the 1981-2010 set did. Early in 2020, meteorologist Becky Bolinger ran 29 years of data and discovered that only one county in Iowa had fewer above-average monthly temperatures than below-average from 1991 onward. Every other part of the US experienced rising average temperatures.

In other words: welcome to the new normal, thanks to human-caused climate change.

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.

Long weekend

After a cool front passed through yesterday, this morning we've got sun, cooler (25°C vs yesterday's 32°C) weather, and a gentle breeze.

My way of saying, see you tomorrow. Or maybe later this evening.

So many things today

I'm taking a day off, so I'm choosing not to read all the articles that have piled up on my desktop:

Finally, a "mania" set Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to Teletubbies footage, and it's horrifying.

How to dine outdoors in Chicago in December

The head of the Illinois Restaurant Association looks to ski towns for inspiration:

Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the trade group has been having conversations with the city and state about extending street closures and using tents, heaters, blankets and plastic domes to give restaurants more seating capacity as COVID-19 restrictions continue.

“We have about six weeks,” Toia said Wednesday during a virtual speech to the City Club of Chicago. “We need to start thinking outside the box right now. … Because we could be in this for the next six months and we want to be ahead of the curve.”

Outdoor dining has been a saving grace for restaurants with the space for it, and the city has reduced sidewalk fees, streamlined the process for getting an outdoor seating permit and blocked off some streets to allow tables to be set up there.

When the weather no longer cooperates, “we could really be in trouble,” Toia said. He urged local officials to take a page from Toronto, Paris and Colorado ski towns to make outdoor dining feasible into winter.

He's right to worry. Our Covid-19 numbers get just a tiny bit worse every day, though we're still under the line to remain in Phase 4.

Well, blow me down

The National Weather Service has confirmed that Monday's storm spawned 7 tornadoes over Northern Illinois, including one that skipped through the far-North Side neighborhood Rogers Park:

Local news site Block Club Chicago reports:

The tornado saw estimated peak winds of 175 km/h, according to the weather service. It formed at about 4 p.m. Monday and traveled about 5 km, traveling roughly from Touhy Avenue near Lincoln Avenue and traveling eastbound to Lake Michigan.

The storm toppled dozens of large trees along Jarvis, crushing cars and leaving roads impassable well into Tuesday. Street lights and power lines were also downed along Jarvis, with numerous cars totaled and houses damaged from the falling debris.

Damage was spotted along Jarvis Avenue from about Western Avenue to the lakefront, said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th). Multiple trees were downed along a four-block stretch of Jarvis from Paulina Avenue to the lakefront. At least two city blocks were impassable due to fallen debris.

No major injuries have been reported from the storm, Hadden said.

The National Weather Service estimated the path:

They also published a montage of radar images of the derecho at one-hour intervals:

And about a block away from me, this already-dying maple finally gave up the ghost yesterday afternoon, to the detriment of an old Toyota and anyone trying to drive down the street:

Swinging in the breeze

A derecho blasted through Iowa and Illinois yesterday, blasting 120 km/h winds through Chicago and spawning at least one tornado two neighborhoods over from me:

Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, meteorologists said it’s possible a tornado touched down in Rogers Park on the Far North Side, before heading out over Lake Michigan, where the funnel became a waterspout.

The derecho blew in from Iowa, where winds surpassed 100 mph. It swept east across Illinois and into Indiana, with winds of 65 to 115 km/h, with some gusts as high as 145 km/h, the weather service reported, but the Chicago area mostly dodged the direst warnings as no deaths or serious injuries were reported, forecasters said.

The storm continued across Lake Michigan until finally dissipating over eastern Michigan.

In my neighborhood we had lots of tree limbs down but apparently not so much property damage. We have some ailing ash trees nearby that fared particularly poorly:

Sixteen hours later, the weather is delightful, and predicted to stay that way for a couple of days.

As the pipeline builds...

I'm waiting for a build to finish so I can sign off work for the day, so I've queued up a few things to read later:

Looks like the build is done, and all the tests passed. (I love green pipelines.)