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.