Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snowshoe hare

Ears twitch to and fro,
Alley rabbit shuns the cold,
Intrepid rodent.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Temperature droppings

Forty-two degrees is cold. I learned this today when I walked to the mailbox near work. Donning only a fleece (no gloves, no hat), I walked a couple blocks through a stiff wind. We are in the midst of a 36-hour thaw. Tomorrow's forecast is for a high of 42 and a low of 1.

Here is a funny video courtesy of a Chicagoist tip:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blue heron

Back again with more updates on the weather. This is turning into something of a weather blog, but that's OK-what else is there to talk about in Chicago in January? The Bulls stink, the Hawks are struggling, the Bears are long gone, the baseball teams are mediocre and the Super Bowl is an East Coast hype machine dream. I did make it out once during the past week. I saw a great blue heron, braving single digit temperatures, in the dune area at Montrose and tallied 16 hardy species in all.

The freeze-thaw story continues. Since the flooding of early January, rivers have now frozen and created massive icejams. Morris, Ill., is one community that is threatened. Temperatures have remained in the single digits and teens for about 10 days. Adhering to my duty in reporting thaws, I should add there is one coming and Monday may see temps in the 40s.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Numb paean

Winter is back with a vengeance today. It's 6 degrees right now in Uptown, -2 in Freeport, about 120 miles west, and it was -3 at O'Hare this morning. Two hundred miles to the north, in Green Bay, the Packers and Giants kick off tomorrow night with a gametime temperature of 0.

These bitterly cold days in Chicago often are not accompanied by snow and include bright sunshine. There is hardly a dusting on the ground right now. It's 81 and partly sunny today on the pink sand beaches of Governor's Harbour, The Bahamas.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vulnerable enox

One of the correspondents sent an update on a post about the mouth-breathers who terrorized campers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness in Minnesota last summer. One of the "Ely Six" was sentenced to just nine months in jail but agreed to testify against a few of the others. Another, who was "just along for the ride," received probation. One thing I didn't realize was that the rampage was fueled by anger toward environmentalism. The article also introduces the slang "enox," which isn't a type of Pleistocene megafauna but a contraction of "environmentally obnoxious." Wear your enox monikers proudly, tree-huggers.

It will be interesting to see what sentences the rest of the motorboat morons receive. Camping in back woods locations leaves you vulnerable. Most of us don't have firearms, and there really isn't much you can do if someone wants to mess with you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Variable water

Lake Michigan has been well below its historic levels for several years. This year it is facing a record low. The Wilson Avenue Launch Ramp, in the park near our condo, is at least a hundred yards from any water. Actually, there now is a wooden walkway that descends into the launch area and leads to a dog beach between the launch and the water.
Finally, the flood waters are receding in east-central Illinois.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Winter flooding

Stability has returned to the local weather scene. Though a few of my favorite birding/driving areas to the south were hit by deadly flooding.

Thank you to driftless area correspondents for a couple of links. First, Jim Rome's take on Sir Edmund Hillary's death. Rome knocks out this take as only Rome could.

Second, a tribute to winter camping appeared in the New York Times. Winter camping beckons!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thaw crazy

The Chicago Tribune's editors have similar thoughts about the strange January weather and also believe in the weather gods.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Weather gods

This thaw has been far from overlooked by the media, and I am eating some crow today (proverbially, not the ones that roost in our yard). Today, the Tribune featured the thaw as a news alert across the top of its home page. The mercury touched another record high today, this time in the neighborhood of 64. Flood watches and warnings are posted throughout the four-state region; it was 73 in the east-central Illinois city of Danville. A tornado may have touched down near Rockford, the first January tornado in the Chicago area since 1950. A line of severe thunderstorms swept through the area, and I watched the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building get struck by lightning on my way home. Indeed, all hell has broken loose since my first thaw post, and the apocalypse may be upon us.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

False spring

Today the temperature touched a record high of 58 at Midway Airport. The statewide high was 72 in Cahokia, in southern Illinois. Tomorrow lower 60s are expected here. It's been quite windy and very damp, though no rain yet. I am enjoying the spring-like weather though it won't last for long.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Drifting away

The Tribune has provided a paean to the Driftless Area (the geologic region, not the blog). Southwestern Wisconsin is a beautiful place, and a few of us had a chance to wander the curvy back roads of the area in July.

In other Driftless Area news, the eagles have returned to Lock and Dam No. 13 in Fulton, Ill., along the Mississippi. The latest reports are of 500 present--the highest figure I've seen in recent years. A link to recent photos here.

Thaw love

A big thaw is under way in the Chicago area, and this post is part of an effort to give equal time to thaws as well as freezes and snowstorms. (Cold temperatures and snow get all the attention. Mild winter temperatures and rain are often overlooked and really only get mentioned when they lead to floods.) The temperature in Uptown is 40 right now, and the snow around our building is quickly disappearing. We had a significant snowfall New Year's Eve and are well ahead of the seasonal norms. My knee has kept me from cross country skiing (damn). Anyway, as part of a southerly flow, today's forecast is for 41 and a chance of rain. By tomorrow or Monday we could see near-record temperatures in the upper 40s and lower 50s and a steady rainfall.

Thaws are part of the regular cycle in Chicago winters though many will have you believe winter here is always a bleak, frigid experience (much of it is). But in these latitudes, the snow melts a few times a winter and the ground is bare for lengthy periods of time. I estimate that 300 or 400 miles north of here is where there truly is snow on the ground all winter long.

The down side of the thaw: it reveals all the litter and soiled tree lawns around here. The up side: we get to wear our wellies.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Snow drift

I found an interesting feature on Weather Underground. If you click on Snow Depth, it takes you to a list of snow depths around the state. Here is a link to Illinois' snow depth. The current depth at the Freeport Wastewater Plant is 7 inches. The Northwestern Illinois burg of Mount Carroll, former home of Shimer College, is tops in the state at 10 inches.