WBEZ | Snow http://www.wbez.org/tags/snow Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Just how bad is this Chicago winter? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This post has been updated to reflect how the 2013-2014 winter season in particular compares to seasons past. It introduces the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, which seeks to combine several factors that make winter miserable: temperatures, snowfall and a winter season&#39;s duration. As of March 17, the index would suggest the 2013-2014 was the third-worst since the 1950s. Additionally, the season ranks third-highest when it comes to&nbsp;</em><em><a href="#snow">snowfall</a>&nbsp;measured from Dec. 1 to the end of February.&nbsp;</em><em>Continue reading to see how recent decades (not just this season) compare to those of Chicago&#39;s past when it comes to&nbsp;<a href="#temps">temperature</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="#city">city response</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;re still warming up from January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> &mdash; replacing your car&rsquo;s battery or repairing the plastic insulation taped into your window frames &mdash; but bear with us: What&rsquo;s the worst part of winter?</p><p>Curious City recently got a related question from Edgewater resident Tracey Rosen:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Is it&nbsp;true&nbsp;that Chicago winters were worse than they are now?&quot;</em></p><p>I asked Illinois State Climatologist <a href="http://www.wbez.org/results?s=jim%20angel">Jim Angel</a>, who pointed out Tracey&rsquo;s query raises questions of its own.</p><p>&ldquo;I have wrestled with that question before &mdash; what constitutes a &lsquo;bad&rsquo; winter. Is it the snow, the cold temperature, the length of the season, etc.,&rdquo; Angel said in an email. &ldquo;I can tell you that by most measures the winters in the late 1970s were the worst.&rdquo;</p><p>But it depends on what you deem &ldquo;worse.&rdquo; Would that be a winter with more snow? One with more big snowstorms? Should the coldest winter count? Or maybe one where city services like public transportation freeze to a halt?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tracey%20rosen%20WEB.jpg" style="float: right; height: 195px; width: 260px;" title="Question-asker Tracey Rosen, who asked Curious City if Chicago winters were really worse than they are now. (Photo courtesy Tracey Rosen)" /></p><p>To answer Tracey&rsquo;s question, we broke down some of the more universal descriptors of a &ldquo;bad&rdquo; winter and found out which years had it the worst (<a href="#temps">temperature</a>, <a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>, <a href="#snow">snowfall</a>, <a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>, <a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and <a href="#city">city response</a>).</p><p>Along the way we found out what effect a brutal Chicago winter has on the people who live here and how some of them cope. But we also struck gold when we found there&rsquo;ve been attempts to scientifically assign a value to each winter&rsquo;s particular blend of meteorological misery; this would be <a href="#misery">one measurement to rule them all</a> &mdash; or at least allow us to compare a snowy, but mild winter to one that was cold but had clear skies.</p><p><strong><a name="misery"></a>Winter and our discontent</strong></p><p>A scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association researches the question we&rsquo;re asking: How do you judge a severe winter? Barbara Mayes Boustead developed the <a href="https://ams.confex.com/ams/93Annual/webprogram/Paper218513.html" target="_blank">Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index</a> (AWSSI, pronounced &ldquo;aussie&rdquo;) to mathematically pin all of this down.</p><p>AWSSI assigns points to each winter based on its daily temperature maximums and minimums, its snowfall and lingering snow depth, and its length. The index designates the &quot;start&quot; of winter when the first snow falls, or the first high temperature that&rsquo;s 32 degrees or colder. If neither of these happens before Dec. 1, then that&rsquo;s when the index starts counting. The &quot;end&quot; of winter is set by the last snowfall date, the last day with one inch or more of snow depth, or the last day when the maximum temperature is 32 degrees or colder. If none of these occurs after February, then the last day of February is the end of winter.</p><p>The winter of 2013-2014 &ldquo;began&rdquo; in Chicago on Nov. 11, according to AWSSI, with 0.4 inches of snow. That&rsquo;s close to the average start date of Nov. 13, which means it&rsquo;s unlikely to rank as one of the city&rsquo;s longest winters &mdash; several have stretched five or six months. In 2006, winter started on Oct. 12 and didn&rsquo;t end until April 12.</p><p>The following chart represents the trajectory of misery within specific seasons. Read from left to right, you can see when a particular winter season began and &mdash;&nbsp;as the line climbs &mdash; how it performed on the AWSSI scale. This version represents only the five highest- and five lowest-ranking seasons. The blue, filled-in section represents 2013-2014, while the black line follows the average since the start of the 1950-1951 season. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/boustead winter update.png" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/boustead%20winter%20update.png" style="height: 447px; width: 615px; margin: 5px;" title="Click to enlarge! This chart shows the five highest-ranking and five lowest-ranking winter seasons according to the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index. The 2013-2014 season is indicated by the blue, filled-in section and is current through March 17, 2014. The black line represents the average compiled from the beginning of the 1950-1951 winter season. Data provided by NOAA's Barbara Mayes Boustead." /></a></div></div><p>Statistically speaking, the AWWSI suggests that this winter is indeed &quot;bad&quot; compared to previous seasons; as of March 17, Boustead said,&nbsp;2013-2014 ranked as the third-most severe since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p>Omaha-based Boustead said she her work&#39;s<a href="http://www.omaha.com/article/20111124/NEWS01/711249895" target="_blank"> inspired by the descriptions in Laura Ingalls Wilder&rsquo;s Little House on the Prairie novels</a>, particularly <em>The Long Winter</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;What I&rsquo;ve been doing this whole thing for is so that I can go back to these records and add up what their AWSSI was that winter and show how severe that winter was,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><strong><a name="temps"></a>Temperatures: chilly, crisp or spiteful</strong></p><p>Looking at data from the <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/">National Climatic Data Center, housed in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a>, you can <a href="http://www.southernclimate.org/products/trends.php">get a sense of that &lsquo;70s chill</a> Angel mentioned:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/h9P0LhfCacDnZMY2oWtx98ZK62yvDYMNhyDZGL-DRRCy7T67acaWyh-41Sy1yJ95Jni3eZR7bc-R9YE5kvDpDKhz1LhEMGRTced1Q-wJ5nAAEDrjBqI2ko3HmQ" style="margin: 5px; height: 474px; width: 610px;" title="Winter season temperatures in Illinois. Chart courtesy of Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program. " /></p><p>The green dots are the temperatures during individual winters (December-February). The red and blue areas are periods where warmer and cooler temperatures, respectively, dominated. A relatively cold period for northeastern Illinois (compared to its average winter temperature of 25.1 degrees Fahrenheit) began in 1976 and continued through 1987. Relatively mild winters, average-temperature-wise, immediately followed, from 1988 through 2006.</p><p><a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=chi_records">Chicago&rsquo;s coldest month was January 1977</a>, with an average temperature of just 10.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest single temperature reading, however, was eight years later. On January 20, 1985 the thermometers hit 27 degrees below zero. And Chicago&rsquo;s coldest year on record was 1875, with an annual average temperature of 45.1 degrees.</p><p>On Jan. 26, a press release issued by Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office reminded Illinoisans that some freezes can be fatal:</p><p>&ldquo;Extreme cold temperatures are dangerous and can be deadly. Since 1995, more than 130 fatalities related to cold temperatures have occurred in Illinois, making it the second-leading cause of weather-related deaths in Illinois in the past two decades.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zZVElJBkO7Q?rel=0" width="405"></iframe></p><p>We&rsquo;ve had a few bouts of persistently cold temperatures this winter, including one that approached a length not seen since 1996, when a 66-hour run of subzero temperatures became the area&rsquo;s second longest. That record belongs to a 98-hour period beginning on Dec. 26, 1983.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s temperature as measured at O&rsquo;Hare Airport has dropped below zero 15 times this winter, <a href="http://blog.chicagoweathercenter.com/category/tims-weather-world/">as of</a> the end of January &mdash; that&rsquo;s twice the long-term average. That puts us not far from the winter of 1978-79, when the city saw subzero temperatures 23 times.</p><p>The1970s were indeed cold and snowy, enough to be a point of pride for the Chicagoans who weathered those years.</p><p>&ldquo;When people comment and say, &lsquo;Oh winters are not as cold as they used to be,&rsquo; it&rsquo;s a way to say, &lsquo;My Chicago is not what it used to be,&rsquo;&rdquo; said our question asker, Tracey Rosen. &ldquo;You know, the identity of the Chicago that I drew from is not what these young people are doing with Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Statistically speaking, though, the winter of 2013-14 could give young Chicagoans an idea of what their late 70s forbears had to deal with. Again, Barbara Mayes Boustead&#39;s &ldquo;winter severity index&rdquo; ranks this season &mdash; as of March 17 &mdash; the city&rsquo;s third-most &ldquo;severe&rdquo; since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="windchill"></a>Wind chill: The wind blows cold</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Meridith112%20st%20charles%202014.jpg" style="float: left; height: 230px; width: 260px;" title="Wind chills can add some misery to any Chicago winter. (Flickr/Meridith112)" />A biting wind can make an ordinary cold night feel like a deep freeze &mdash; January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> brought Arctic wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero. But, Chicago&rsquo;s coldest wind chill ever was -82 degrees. It came on Christmas Eve, 1983.</p><p>The wind in the term &ldquo;wind chill&rdquo; can compound a winter season&rsquo;s misery. For example, gusts can make it hard to clear snow. Tim Gibbons has owned Tim&rsquo;s Snowplowing, Inc. for 30 years. They&rsquo;re located in Humboldt Park now, but Gibbons started plowing in the neighborhood he grew up in and still calls home &mdash; North Center. Lately wind has been making his job difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve had is the phenomenon of a light, dry snow followed by a heavy-wind vortex, as these systems pass, that is taking that same light, dry snow and moved it back across whatever surface it was on,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If it was a wet, heavy snow &hellip; it&rsquo;s less likely to be driven by any wind. But this light, dry, fluffy snow moves around like dust.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><a name="snow"></a>Snowfall: Speaking of fluffy stuff</strong></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=CHI_winter_snow">data from the National Weather Service</a>, four of the five snowiest decades since 1890 have occurred in the last 50 years, as have eight of the 10 snowiest individual winters on record. Average snowfall for winters in the 1970s was just over 40 inches per year. (For comparison, the decade with the driest winters was the 1920s, with only 18.2 inches of snowfall per year on average.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/kgv6U/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe></p><p>Chicago went 107 days with snow on the ground from November 27, 1978 to March 13, 1979.</p><p>This season, it&#39;s unlikely we&#39;ll have snow in sight for such a long period. And, despite some notable snowfalls, some key operations are able to keep up. According to climatologist Jim Angel, this winter we have not gone more than about four days in a row with snow cover at O&rsquo;Hare. &quot;Of course,&quot; he adds, &quot;some of the piles of snow in parking lots are lasting a lot longer.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="extremes"></a>Finding the extremes</strong></p><p>Just as averages can blur individual data points, looking at total snowfall can miss the difference between a quaint winter wonderland and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoth">Hoth</a>: huge snowstorms.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/winter%20%20Forest%20Preserve%20District%20of%20Cook%20County%20Records%2C%20University%20of%20Illinois%20at%20Chicago%20Library.jpg" style="float: right; height: 241px; width: 300px;" title="One good thing about lots of snow? Tobagganing. (Photo courtesy Forest Preserve District of Cook County Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library)" />Since 1886, there have been 42 storms that brought 10 inches of snow or more to Chicago, said Ben Deubelbeiss of the National Weather Service. (The most recent one was in 2011, when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/2011-blizzard">more than 20 inches of snow blanketed the city, stranding cars on Lake Shore Drive</a>.) Every decade has had at least one such storm, but the 1890s leads the pack with seven. The 1970s is a close second, however, with six snowstorms that dropped at least 10 inches. The 1960s were third, with five.</p><p>How about individual years? It&rsquo;s rare for any given year to have more than one Chicago snowstorm that big. In fact, Deubelbeiss said since NWS&rsquo; records began in 1886, only five years have had two storms with more than 10 inches of snow each: 1894, 1895, 1896, 1978, and 1970.</p><p>Here are Chicago&rsquo;s ten biggest snowstorms:</p><p>1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967<br />2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999<br />3. 21.2 inches Feb. 1-2, 2011<br />4. 20.3 inches Jan 13-14, 1979<br />5. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930<br />6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931<br />7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929<br />8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939<br />9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918<br />10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s single <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story">biggest snowstorm</a> occurred on Jan. 26, 1967. At 5:02 a.m. it began to snow. It snowed all day and night, until 10:10 a.m. the next day, dropping 23 inches of snow in all. Looting broke out, some people were stranded overnight at work or in school, and 26 people died as a result of the storm.</p><p>(Not everything was bad about the massive snowfall. Chicago Public Library researchers said <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20040402070119/http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/disasters/snowstorms.html">some of the 75 million tons of snow that fell that year made its way to &quot;as a present to Florida children who had never seen snow before.&quot;</a>)</p><p>Cold temperatures and periodic snow continued for the next ten days, aggravating attempts to cleanup after the storm and get city services back to normal. All that was made a bit more shocking by the fact that just two days before the storm, the temperature had reached a record 65 degrees.</p><p><strong><a name="grey"></a>Grey skies: The not-so-fluffy stuff</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jon%20Pekelnicky.jpg" style="float: left; height: 278px; width: 370px;" title="On average, Chicago gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. This is not one of those times. (Flickr/Jon Pekelnicky)" />Chicagoan Frank Wachowski <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-09/news/ct-met-weather-watcher-frank-20110809_1_national-weather-service-chicago-weather-weather-page">has catalogued the city&#39;s weather data for decades</a>, compiling its longest continuous volume of meteorological data. One thing he keeps track of is the amount of sunlight that shines each day.</p><p>Of the years tracked in Wachowski&rsquo;s records, 1992 had the most winter days (November through February) with no sunshine &mdash; 46 of those 121 days registered zero percent on Wachowski&rsquo;s sunshine recorder. Of the 25 gloomiest years using this measure, only five have occurred since 1990.</p><p>On average, Chicago only gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. That annual average has stayed about the same for 30 years, Wachowski said.</p><p>In the winter, it&rsquo;s even grayer. Winter months typically get sunshine less than 44 percent of the time. In November 1985, the sun only shined on average 16 percent of the time.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not surprising to people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, like <a href="http://arlenemalinowski.com/not_normal.htm">Arlene Malinowski</a>. SAD, as it&rsquo;s known by its acronym, afflicts about six percent of Americans. Malinowski&rsquo;s an actor and playwright who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arlene-malinowski-phd/seasonal-affective-disorder_b_4551574.html">has written about</a> the depression that sets in during long, gray winters.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re tired all the time, there is this decreased energy, a real lack of focus and productivity. It is more than just, &ldquo;oh blah I&rsquo;m having a bad day&rdquo; &mdash; it is a deep, deep sadness and emptiness,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Last week I looked out the window and the streetlights were on at 11 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, and I thought, &lsquo;This is not right.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a light at the end of the tunnel, literally. A lightbox can simulate sunlight indoors &mdash; a therapy Malinowski recommends along with walks or vacations, if you can take them.</p><p><strong><a name="city"></a>Municipal response: City Hall on the case</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470">If you can stay warm and indoors during cold snaps and snowstorms</a>, even extreme weather itself doesn&rsquo;t throw off your schedule for more than a day or two. But when city services grind to a halt, the agony of a winter storm can go on for much longer.</p><p>When 20.3 inches of snow fell on Chicago Jan. 13-14, 1979, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/great-lsd-gridlock-blizzard-1979-redux">it snarled both city streets and Mayor Michael Bilandic&rsquo;s reelection ambitions</a>.Jane Byrne went on to win the municipal election less than two months later, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/12/30/132478152/Political-Lessons-From-Old-Chicago-Blizzard-Still-Linger">and the politics of snow would become associated with her term forever</a>.</p><p>New CTA lines running in expressway medians choked on all the de-icing salt. Unlike previous storms, the 1979 blizzard saw massive closures of rapid transit lines, in addition to buses, cars and flights.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvFwjhpkjL0">WBBM Channel 2 News did a Special Report</a> on the city&rsquo;s response during that storm&rsquo;s aftermath. In his intro to the segment, newsman Bill Kurtis described a scene that may sound familiar to those who have weathered more recent blizzards:</p><p>&ldquo;Side streets still unpassable. Public transportation snarled. Expressways buried. O&rsquo;Hare Airport closed for one of the few times in its history. This is turning out to be Chicago&rsquo;s winter of discontent, alright.&rdquo;</p><p>About O&rsquo;Hare closing &mdash; Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said while they always have staff on hand to maintain the airport, winter weather has temporarily knocked out all available runways on several occasions. There were &ldquo;nearly half a dozen&rdquo; such occasions in the 1970s and 80s, Pride said, but that hasn&#39;t happened since.</p><p>Another major blizzard struck the Midwest in 1999, dropping <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">22 inches of snow on Chicago</a> before temperatures plummeted to -20 degrees or lower in parts of Illinois on January 3 and 4. The National Weather Service ranked it as the second worst blizzard of the 20th century, behind only the blizzard of 1967.</p><p>Later that month in 1999, President Bill Clinton declared a disaster area in half of Illinois&rsquo; counties. Areas of Indiana were also declared disaster areas. The Midwest storm caught Detroit off guard but, <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">according to Stanley A. Changnon of the NCDC</a>, &ldquo;Chicago was prepared. The city put 850 snow removal trucks on the streets (240 is the normal number for heavy snow).&rdquo;</p><p>The 1999 storm was slightly larger than the one in 1979, at least in terms of snowfall, but it doesn&rsquo;t carry the weight of a mayor&rsquo;s political career. It did, however, set some records. Lake Shore Drive was shut down altogether for the first time in history, and Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana was also closed. Chicago Public Schools extended winter break by two days. By Jan. 9, one week after the storm, <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-s-11th-year-anniversary-of-the-1999-new-years-snowstorm">only about half of Chicago students were back in class</a>.</p><p>Our most recent massive snowstorm &mdash; the 20.2-inch blizzard of 2011, responsible for the city&rsquo;s third highest snowfall on record &mdash; shares some things with its 1999 predecessor. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/03/us-weather-chicago-idUSTRE71180W20110203">Chicago Public Schools were again closed</a>, for the first time since 1999, and cars were once again stranded on Lake Shore Drive.</p><p><strong>Climate change</strong></p><p>In terms of cold and snow, generally speaking, the trend is toward milder winters. How much milder Chicago&rsquo;s winters will become, and how quickly that will happen, is difficult to pinpoint.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GILL%20COLD%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Despite what this photo implies, Chicago winters are getting milder, generally. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" />&ldquo;This pattern we have been seeing &mdash; especially since the late 70s &mdash; is just this pattern of fewer days below zero, less snowfall and just overall some warmer conditions when you look at the average temperatures,&rdquo; said State Climatologist Jim Angel. &ldquo;And that kind of makes this one seem even more dramatic, I think, because we&rsquo;re not used to this kind of weather.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate change is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?pagewanted=all">making the baseline Chicago winter more mild</a> but, perversely, it might also make extreme bouts of cold more common. While the overall trend is toward warmer temperatures, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/10/white-house-climate-change-polar-vortex-google-hangout">some scientists think the off-kilter &quot;polar vortex&quot; that caused early 2014&#39;s frigid temperatures</a> could drift down from the Arctic more often due to climatic variations. If that proves true, future winters could paradoxically be milder, but more prone to bouts of extreme cold thanks to <a href="http://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/how-polar-vortex-related-arctic-oscillation">an unruly &quot;Arctic Oscillation.&quot;</a> (<a href="http://www.skepticalscience.com/pliocene-snapshot.html">It&rsquo;s been millions of years</a> since we&rsquo;ve had as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as we do now, so we may see some strange or seemingly paradoxical climate and weather effects &mdash; <a href="http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/03/globalweirding/">some people even prefer the term &quot;global weirding&quot;</a> to describe the unexpected results of climate change.)</p><p>As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, scientists expect the average global temperature to increase. <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/13">Last year was warmer and wetter than average for the contiguous U.S.</a>, NOAA said in January &mdash; a finding consistent with climate change.</p><p><strong>A silver lining?</strong></p><p>Ultimately agony is a matter of perspective when it come to winter weather.</p><p>Tim Gibbons of TSI Snow said it&rsquo;s important to remember the good times. The 54-year-old has been around for some mighty winters, but has only fond memories of the blustery late 1970s.</p><p>&ldquo;We would skate on frozen parks outside pretty much from Christmas to Valentine&rsquo;s Day, nonstop. They didn&rsquo;t plow the side streets at all back then,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;We would skitch &mdash; or hang on the bumper of moving cars &mdash; for entertainment, to get places. It was really quite an interesting means of transportation.&rdquo;</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s older, he admits business can be stressful during extreme winters. But he said that&rsquo;s not the whole story. His advice? People should help each other shovel out their cars (he&rsquo;s no fan of dibs), and remember that even the coldest winter&rsquo;s only temporary.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s time we all take a deep breath, count our blessings, soldier on in the true &lsquo;I will&rsquo; spirit of Chicago,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;Hearty people live in Chicago. We get through our winters and we celebrate our summers as a result.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 07:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 Three dead in 40-car pileup in Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/three-dead-40-car-pileup-northwest-indiana-109567 <p><p dir="ltr">Crews are clearing away the last semi-truck from a deadly pileup on Interstate 94 near Michigan City, Ind.</p><p dir="ltr">Three people are confirmed dead after the 40-car crash last night. One person is being treated for life-threatening injuries and another 20 were hurt in the accident.</p><p dir="ltr">The crash occurred amid blowing snow that made it very difficult to see.</p><p dir="ltr">Indiana State Police Sergeant Todd Ringle said investigators aren&rsquo;t sure yet what caused the crash, but he said conditions were so bad that even one vehicle slowing down suddenly could have caused the chain reaction pileup.</p><p dir="ltr">Ringle said they hope to reopen the highway sometime this morning, but he couldn&#39;t guess what time that would be.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 06:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/three-dead-40-car-pileup-northwest-indiana-109567 A snow-shoveling death hits close to home http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-shoveling-death-hits-close-home-109520 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/VictorCafeCROPhorizontal.png" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 241px; width: 300px;" title="Víctor Medina, 48, collapsed in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood January 5 while trying to clear out his family’s parking spot. (Family photo)" />Early January&rsquo;s bout of snow and cold brought the usual media tally of winter-related casualties, including four men in the Chicago area who suffered fatal heart attacks while shoveling snow. You never know it from the death count, but each victim has a story.</p><p>On Tuesday, relatives of Víctor Medina laid his body to rest. Medina, 48, collapsed in the city&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood January 5. He was trying to clear snow from the parking spot behind his family&rsquo;s apartment.</p><p>I see that parking spot every time I take out my garbage. I see the apartment every morning through my kitchen window. Víctor was my next-door neighbor.</p><p>I chatted with him in passing, now and then, but another guy in my building knew him much better.</p><p>&ldquo;Víctor was one of the first people I met when I moved here in 2003,&rdquo; said Jason Walejeski, recalling our neighbor hanging out in his backyard, catching up with friends. &ldquo;He always wanted to know how you were doing.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/VictorFamilyCROP.png" title="Medina, his wife Jeanette Vázquez, and their children Kelvin and Dalysha celebrate Dalysha’s graduation last year from Prosser Career Academy, a high school on Chicago’s Northwest Side. (Family photo)" /></div><p>Víctor also kept an eye out for people who did not belong around his building &mdash; or ours. He thwarted three burglary attempts on our property and, a couple summers ago, he alerted us to something else. &ldquo;Your back fence is on fire,&rdquo; Jason recalled Víctor informing him over the phone.</p><p>That fence was made of wood. It abutted a fire escape, also made of wood, that ran up the back side of our building. &ldquo;Someone had been using their grill earlier in the day and they put the coals down next to the fence,&rdquo; Jason said. &ldquo;Víctor [helped] put it out right away &mdash; crisis averted. He was just always looking out for us.&rdquo;</p><p>Víctor also watched out for his two kids, especially his daughter, Dalysha, 19. &ldquo;It was pretty bad growing up in Humboldt Park and hearing all of the gunshots through my window and having to be scared,&rdquo; she told me.</p><p>Dalysha said her father protected her: &ldquo;We used to have a candy store on the corner and I&rsquo;d be, like, &lsquo;Can I go out and get some candy on the corner?&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>She said his response was always the same: No. The only way Dalysha could venture down the block was hand-in-hand with him.</p><p>That sort of parenting seems to have paid off. Dalysha made it into Dominican University, where she is a freshman. Her brother, Kelvin, 20, is a private in the U.S. Marines.</p><p>Víctor pushed his kids to go places he could not. Raised in Ponce, the Puerto Rican city, he had 15 brothers and sisters. As a young man, he migrated to Chicago and ended up working mostly kitchen jobs.</p><p>He worked, that is, as much as his health allowed it. Víctor had deep vein thrombosis, heart problems and high blood pressure. The heart attack that killed him was his fourth, Dalysha said.</p><p>In a typical U.S. winter, roughly 100 people suffer fatal cardiac arrests while shoveling snow. Considering Víctor&rsquo;s medical conditions, I had to ask his family the obvious question: Why on earth was he out shoveling?</p><p>&ldquo;Víctor said, &lsquo;If I don&rsquo;t do the shoveling, who&rsquo;s going to do it?&rsquo; &rdquo; his widow, Jeanette Vázquez, told me.</p><p>Jeanette said she would plead with him. She would insist that snow shoveling was the landlord&rsquo;s responsibility. But after 26 years together, she knew she had little chance of changing his mind. &ldquo;That was Víctor,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And now?</p><p>&ldquo;I miss him a lot,&rdquo; Jeanette said through tears, her voice so faint I could hardly hear it. &ldquo;A lot, a lot, a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>I wasn&rsquo;t all that close to Víctor. I did not know him beyond what we could express over the fence in a minute or so. I never seemed to have more time.</p><p>But I will think of Víctor whenever I see his daughter getting home from a day of classes. I will think of him the next time someone tries to break in to our building. I&rsquo;ll remember him whenever snow has buried my car. Whenever I&rsquo;m shoveling out.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-shoveling-death-hits-close-home-109520 Snow, severe cold shuts down Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 <p><p>Northwest Indiana road conditions are improving but the area is far from normal and may be days away from recovering from an arctic blast of super cold temperatures.</p><p>Motorists and truckers had to deal with closed roads and highways for much of Monday, and after briefly reopening, by 5 p.m., INDOT had once again closed I-65 due to hazardous road conditions; I 80/94 remains open.</p><p>Earlier in the day trucker Tom Kenman of Joliet, IL passed the time in the cab of his semi truck listening to music and reading. Kenman works for a contractor that delivers mail for the U.S. Postal Service. He&rsquo;s ready to return home after being stuck at a Speedway gas station near Interstate 65 and 61st Avenue in Merrillville. As of this morning, it didn&rsquo;t look good for Kenman.</p><p>&ldquo;Things were kind of hazardous. About 6 p.m. (Sunday), things were hazardous so I jumped off on Route (U.S.) 30. I do maybe 20, 25 mph. That&rsquo;s it. Even before they shut it down, I decided forget it. I-65 is a mess. I don&rsquo;t know what I&rsquo;m going to do.</p><p>With most restaurants and businesses closed, even a nearby McDonald&rsquo;s, Kenman waited it out slurping Speedway&rsquo;s coffee and munching doughnuts.&nbsp;</p><p>I-65 was closed to all traffic yesterday afternoon because of heavy snow and slippery conditions. Semi trucks were lined up along U.S. 30 in Merrillville, waiting for I-65 to reopen, along with nearby Interstate 80/94.</p><p>Kenman and other truckers finally got some good news in the afternoon, when the Indiana Department of Transportation reopened I-65 around 2 p.m.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Drivers are advised to use extreme caution, take it slow, and travel at their own risk. Like the majority of roads across Northwest Indiana, and the state, conditions are extremely hazardous and non-emergency travel is strongly discouraged,&rdquo; said INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley.</p><p>But the respite on I-65 was short-lived as officials would shut it down again only a few hours later.</p><p>Earlier in the day, Deitchley told WBEZ that some drivers had been driving around protective barriers to keep them off of I-94.</p><p>&ldquo;Those roads are shut down, but people are still driving around the barricades anyway. INDOT and Indiana State Police don&rsquo;t have the manpower right now to physically stop these drivers, but the roads are closed,&rdquo; Deitchley said. &ldquo;They are taking their lives in their own hands, and jeopardizing the emergency personnel who may have to rescue them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Snow%202.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Trucks are lined up near a Speedway gas station. This is not a truck stop but truckers had no where to go Monday because nearby I-65 was closed. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Drivers should expect to continue to encounter slick conditions and blowing and drifting snow both on the main line interstates and ramps.</p><p>In fact, many motorists in Gary were struggling to drive along Broadway, the city&rsquo;s main drag, with cars getting stuck in snowdrifts.</p><p>Local officials had declared a state of emergency for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties during Sunday&rsquo;s heavy snow storm.</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ordered the Indiana National Guard to help stuck motorists along the highway.</p><p>Much of the state is dealing with heavy snow and severe temperatures but Pence acknowledged at a news conference today in Indianapolis that Northwest Indiana may have been hit the hardest.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">That&rsquo;s why the Republican governor was sending more resources to &ldquo;da Region,&rdquo; often divided from the rest of the state because of political and cultural differences.</div><p>&ldquo;That (Northwest Indiana) is an area of the state, particularly with lake-effect snow, that is no stranger to severe weather events,&rdquo; Pence said, &ldquo;but we&rsquo;re moving resources into the region to recognize that the combination of heavy snow and brutally cold temperatures and wind gusts represents a real public safety hazard.&rdquo;</p><p>Early Monday, even with warnings by police to stay off the roads, some had no choice but to head to work.</p><p>Hammond resident Gus Lopez said driving to his job at ArcelorMittal Steel in neighboring East Chicago felt odd.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really desolate out. Hardly anyone out driving,&rdquo; Lopez told WBEZ. &ldquo;It reminded me of my time in North Dakota, where this type of weather and this type of conditions is not unusual at all for folks up there, that far north.</p><p>And this winter at least, &quot;da Region&quot; is starting to feel more like North Dakota than Northwestern Indiana.</p><p>Most schools in Northwest Indiana will be closed Tuesday but government offices are expected to reopen.</p><p>The Indiana General Assembly is also expected to open its session down in Indianapolis, a day later than originally scheduled.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ NWI Reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>. </em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 19:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 Morning Shift: Memorable music performances of 2013 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-02/morning-shift-memorable-music-performances-2013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Music MS.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We&#39;ve witnessed a lot of great live music this year - from solo artists to sprawling ensembles. We&#39;re taking a look back at some of the most memorable live performances on Morning Shift in 2013.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-memorable-music-performances-of-2013/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-memorable-music-performances-of-2013.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-memorable-music-performances-of-2013" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Memorable music performances of 2013" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 02 Jan 2014 08:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-02/morning-shift-memorable-music-performances-2013 EcoMyths: Snow and Water Supply http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-snow-and-water-supply-109504 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths snow.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><u>The Snow Man Cometh</u></strong></p><p>In the past couple of weeks many of us have seen more snow than we&rsquo;ve seen in a lifetime.Since I grew up in Minnesota, however, the 5 foot snowbanks and freezing temps feel just like home to me. When the first snow falls, I immediately yearn to make snow angels and go skating. But for many, snow can be a real nuisance. So what&#39;s the bright side for those that view the first snow as time to head to Florida?<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127588022&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>Snow and Water Supply</u></strong></p><p>On Worldview&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths segment</a>, Jerome McDonnell and I explore if there is anything redeeming about snow. Our guest was Tim Loftus, PhD, Water Resource Planner for Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). He spearheaded CMAP&rsquo;s recent report on Northeastern Illinois water supply issues. Tim&rsquo;s view is that snow is important, at least somewhat, for replenishing the water supply. But in Illinois, snow only replenishes our drinking water when it falls on Lake Michigan and other open water bodies. As climate change proceeds, Tim says snow will become even less important as the proportion of annual precipitation from rain in the Chicago region increases as the amount of snow decreases.</p><p>Tim points out that in the mountain West, snowfall is significantly more important for restoring the water supply than in the Midwest. This is because in the mountains, melting snow occurs gradually over many weeks or months and flows down gradually refilling the reservoirs and rivers. While a decrease in snowfall in the Great Lakes region is not likely to have much impact, the same trend in the Mountain states would cause significant drought, straining water supplies needed for irrigation and for drinking.</p><p><strong><u>Would You Like Salt With That</u>?</strong></p><p>Here at home, the key issue regarding snow is actually sodium chloride, a.k.a. salt. The rock salt that we use to ice roads and sidewalks washes away when the snow thaws. It ends up in the storm sewers and eventually, our drinking water. Salt also dries out the soil and can damage plants. While there are some salt alternatives, it&#39;s the most common solution for dealing with ice. Tim points out that the short-term advantage of using salt, namely safety, is vital as we continue to use it as a de-icer. However, he says the long-term cost is the accumulation of salt in our water supply. As a result, our grandchildren may have to de-salinate their water in order to drink it, a very expensive and energy intensive process.</p><p><strong><u>One Green Thing</u></strong></p><p>Tim says the alternative to salt is sand. Although it does not melt ice as efficiently as salt, sand is a more benign solution. Sand does not hurt the garden and does not hurt the plants. But, as with salt, it is possible to overuse sand. If sand washes into the storm sewers, the silt can clog sewer pipes and add sediment to the water. But it is still not as damaging as salt.</p><p>The lesser of two evils for making icy winter surfaces safe for walking and driving is to use sand. <strong>The One Green Thing you can do: replace your sidewalk salt with sand to keep chloride out of the water supply -- and to save money for your grandchildren so they don&rsquo;t have to de-salinate their drinking water.</strong></p><p>Listen to today&rsquo;s EcoMyths Worldview podcast (SoundCloud file above) to hear the whole interview on the value of snow!</p><p>To learn more about this myth go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read more on the importance of snow for replenishing our aquifers.</p></p> Thu, 02 Jan 2014 08:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-snow-and-water-supply-109504 How to survive a Chicago winter http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/how-survive-chicago-winter-109295 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dibs.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="An example of &quot;parking dibs&quot; on a Chicago street. (Flickr/meryddian)" /></p><p>Chicago has long been dubbed &quot;The City that Works,&quot; come Snowpocalypse or high water.</p><p>Our springs begin late with constant drizzle, melting in to hot summers that end too soon. The crisp bliss of fall is even more agonizingly brief, with winter nipping at November, setting its icy talons by Black Friday, and casting an inescapable grey pallor over the city from December through March.</p><p>Chicagoans then transition into their preferred roles. For example:</p><ul><li>the homebody hermit, resurfacing on New Years Eve after weeks spent in hibernation.</li><li>the dark-puffy-coat-wearer, slogging begrudgingly through the snow alongside identically dressed, equally miserable-looking <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3DKZaupZb_8/TdhqbqK4WAI/AAAAAAAAA08/qHwF-xhNBcg/s1600/michelin-man.jpg" target="_blank">michelin men</a>.</li><li>the person who travels to get away from Chicago.</li><li>the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-patten/bicycling-through-chicago_b_1095362.html" target="_blank">superhuman</a>&nbsp;cyclist, who takes pride in the fact that everyone else thinks he or she is &#39;crazy.&#39;</li></ul><p>Low temperatures vary from year to year, usally averaging somewhere between barely tolerable and bitterly excruciating. Still, whether you&#39;re a fear-stricken newcomer to the Midwest or a seasoned Chicagoan already worrying that this winter will smack us <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?id=9226717" target="_blank">harder than the last</a>, take heart: you can still go outside and have fun.</p><p>This will my fourth Chicago winter, and I&#39;ve learned a great deal since that first <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/your-doubting-thomas/2011/02/snowmageddon-2011-chicagoans-can-handle-a-little-or-a-lot-of-snow/#image/1" target="_blank">Snowmaggedeon</a>&nbsp;tested my Southern naivety (I used to think that 30 degrees was &quot;cold&quot;) and toughened me up for the years that followed.&nbsp;</p><p>Here are a few tips that I&#39;ve picked up along the way:</p><p><strong>Wear layers upon layers.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Outsiders are aghast by horror stories of &quot;lake effect&quot; and wind chill; but thankfully, Chicagoans know that protection exists in the form of layers. We also know that many establishments tend to overcompensate for the winter cold by cranking up the heat, meaning that you will be grateful for the lightweight shirt tucked under your other layers that you can strip down to once inside.</p><p>I&#39;m particularly fond of smart button-down shirts under cosy sweaters, hooded parkas or bomber jackets lined with faux fur or sheepskin, floral skirts over wool tights, chunky scarves to shield one&#39;s face from the cold, and soft cashmere cardigans for every holiday party.</p><p>Cotton is a poor choice for winter clothing material due to its high thermal conductivity, so choose synthetic fibers (polyester blends, microfiber, fleece) or wool instead.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Make sure that your boots are snow-resistant.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>When you&#39;re out shopping for that perfect pair of oh-so-fashionable winter boots, remember that sustainability trumps style. Will these chic ankle boots turn my feet into moisture sponges as soon as I step outside? Will these department store boots persevere through months upon months of winter trudging? Will that slender heel get stuck in the snow? Always ask yourself these questions before buying a pair, and look for styles that go at least halfway to your knees.&nbsp;</p><p>Don&#39;t even think about wearing Uggs, either. The Chicago slush will destroy them. (And they went out of style circa 2006.)</p><p><strong>Cover your head and hands.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Hats and gloves may be superfluous accessories in warmer climates (I see you, ironic hipsters wearing beanies and fingerless mittens at 70 degrees) but not in Chicago. Here, you can use them for their intended purpose and look like an Urban Outfitters model at the same time.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Respect &quot;parking dibs.&quot;</strong></p><p>New to Chicago? Allow me to explain the rules of &quot;parking dibs.&quot;</p><p>During snow season, Chicagoans put various junk items on the street (usually chairs, sometimes large bins or cinder bocks) on their shoveled-out parking spaces to deter other drivers from taking their spot.</p><p>Legend has it that this practice began during the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story">Chicago Blizzard of 1967</a>, when 23 inches of snow fell in 29 hours, and cemented its status during&nbsp;the infamous&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Blizzard_of_1979" target="_blank">winter of 1979</a>, when almost 90 inches of snow collapsed the CTA. However, according to the Chicago Tribune&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2005/12/no_one_seems_to.html" target="_blank">Eric Zorn</a>, the term &quot;dibs&quot; was first applied in this context by <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-01-05/news/9901050044_1_bedford-falls-neighbors-wonderful-life">John Kass in 1999</a>, and has since spread elsewhere.&nbsp;</p><p>Now, &quot;dibs&quot; is called even during the most minor of snow days, prompting many disgruntled neighbors to question the fairness of a tradition not officially sanctioned by the city. More information on the rules of this amusing and baffling saga can be found <a href="http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20110203.php" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>My two cents? Never move the chair. Just don&#39;t.</p><p><strong>Carry a flask.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>I suggest a good bourbon whiskey or scotch. Sip responsibly for extra warmth.&nbsp;</p><p><b>Go out to stay in.&nbsp;</b></p><p>Your friends may not be as keen to go bar-hopping as they were in June, but the promise of spending all night indoors (and still having a good time!) should be enough to lure them outside for a quick commute. Whether it be a trivia grandslam at your neighborhood pub, a show at the Empty Bottle, an all-night dance party at Smart Bar, or a night of drinking and white elephant gift-giving at your apartment, fun can still be had by all.</p><p>Leave your coat at the door (this is where those layers come in handy!) and rock that ugly Christmas sweater. &#39;Tis the season.&nbsp;</p><p>What are your Chicago winter survival tips?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/how-survive-chicago-winter-109295 Now it's a winter storm warning http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/now-its-winter-storm-warning-105869 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/snow-flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbabiera/8519181871/" target="_blank"><img alt="The snow and slush piled up in Winnemac Park (Rex Babiera on Flickr)" src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8525/8519181871_88f042d8e1.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: right;" /></a>BUT -- BUT -- WE STILL HAVE SOME LEFT OVER FROM LAST WEEK!&nbsp;</strong>And yet,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoweathercenter.com/" target="_blank">more snow&#39;s on the way</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-weather-forecast-snow,0,6178175.story" target="_blank">Up to 10 inches by midweek</a>?<br />* A bad week for <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cta-brown-purple-line-wells-street-bridge-construction,0,7158228.story" target="_blank">this nine-day headache on the CTA</a>.<br />* Still,&nbsp;<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=9014515" target="_blank">it&#39;s better than tornadoes</a>.<br />* In Washington, the Post blogs on &quot;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/snowquester-live-blog-tracking-the-models-march-3-evening-edition/2013/03/03/140b5afc-8467-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394_blog.html" target="_blank">snowquester</a>.&quot;<br />*&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/new_york_times_cancels_green_e.php" target="_blank">shuts its Green blog</a>.<br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2013/02/27/is-there-a-slant-to-climate-reporting/#.UTQw0XzNstU" target="_blank">Is climate reporting slanted</a>?</p><p><strong>THAT GROUPON SIGNOFF?</strong>&nbsp;A company spokeswoman insists&nbsp;<a href="http://jimromenesko.com/2013/03/03/who-wrote-resignation-letter/" target="_blank">Andrew Mason wrote his own goodbye note</a>, praised by a Chicago Tribune editorial as &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-groupon-20130302,0,270340.story" target="_blank">the gold standard for farewell letters</a>.&quot;<br />* &quot;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/03/groupons-bad-deal.html" target="_blank">Even a truncated list of the company&rsquo;s failures borders on breathtaking</a>,&quot; the&nbsp;<em>New Yorker</em>&#39;s Matt Buchanan writes.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.poynter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/killers-hickey.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: right;" /></p><p><strong>CHICAGO&#39;S MUSIC SUMMIT.&nbsp;</strong>Chicago doesn&#39;t have an official &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/does-chicago-finally-have-music-office-105840" target="_blank">Office of Music</a>,&quot; but has two guys planning an event that aims to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/turnitup/chi-chicago-music-summit-20130228,0,6028188.column" target="_blank">assemble 500 musicians, singers and music industry execs in September</a>.<br />* Music site&nbsp;<a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/205769/why-music-site-illustrated-review-with-legos/" target="_blank">illustrates Killers review&nbsp;<strong>with Lego figures</strong></a>.</p><p><strong>&#39;LISTEN, I SPEAK ENGLISH.&#39;&nbsp;</strong>John Boehner defends his use of the phrase &quot;<a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2013/03/boehner-on-ass-comment-i-speak-english-158302.html" target="_blank">get off their ass</a>&quot; to criticize the Senate.<br />* But <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/02/27/priorities-with-the-budget-on-the-brink-speaker-boehner-frets-about-the-dress-code/" target="_blank">he would not abide dress code violations</a>.<br />* Obama&#39;s new strategy: &quot;<a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/285909-new-obama-strategy-taking-no-prisoners" target="_blank">Take no prisoners</a>.&quot;<br />* In honor of <a href="http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/moms/happy-birthday-seuss/Q1hNdFUGH6K9UWmWcXfZkI/gallery.html" target="_blank">Dr. Seuss&#39; birthday</a> over the weekend, <a href="http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/column/the_weekend_desk_report_344.php" target="_blank">a tribute to the sequester -- in rhyme</a>.</p><p><strong>&#39;THAT WAS A REAL MISTAKE.&#39;</strong> In his first public interview since losing, Mitt Romney tells Fox News <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/03/romney-still-disappointed-over-loss-admits-mistakes-critical-obama-second-term/" target="_blank">his campaign failed to connect with minority voters</a>.<br />* Ann Romney: <strong>&quot;</strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/03/ann-romney-fox-news-sunday-blame-the-media-mitt-loss_n_2801280.html" target="_blank">I&#39;m happy to blame the media</a>.&quot;<br />* Newt Gingrich: &quot;<a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/03/03/in_the_real_world_we_were_kidding_ourselves/" target="_blank">We were kidding ourselves</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>QUESTIONS MOST FREQUENTLY ANSWERED WRONG IN <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/take-weeks-news-quiz-challenge-105834" target="_blank">FRIDAY&#39;S NEWS QUIZ</a>.</strong><br />* No. 2:&nbsp;<em>Complete this quote from a &quot;Daily Show&quot; interview with journalist Steven Brill: &quot;The _________ industry takes in more money every year than Hollywood.&quot;</em> (As of early this morning, 73 percent of quiz-takers had answered incorrectly.)<br />* No. 5.&nbsp;<em>The publisher of a North Carolina newspaper criticized for seeking the names of gun-permit holders wrote to readers to do what?&nbsp;</em>(52 percent wrong.)<br /><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/take-weeks-news-quiz-challenge-105834" target="_blank">Take the quiz now</a>, and get the right answers.</strong></p><hr /><p><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.<br />* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 04 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/now-its-winter-storm-warning-105869 Snow Removal before plows, trucks and snow blowers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/snow-removal-plows-trucks-and-snow-blowers-105740 <p><p>Time for a snow story.</p><p>In 2013, city snow removal is fairly routine&ndash;send out the snow plows! But a century ago, cars and trucks and motor vehicles were rare. And Chicago already had 2 million people. How did they get rid of the snow?</p><p>If a street had a streetcar line down the middle, you could attach a plow to the front of a work car, run it down the tracks, and clear a path that way. But there was still snow piled up on either side of the tracks. Besides, most streets didn&rsquo;t have tracks to operate those plows.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-27--Snow%20car%20%28author%27s%29.jpg" title="Streetcar company snowplow (author's collection)" /></div><p>Well, how did <em><u>you</u></em> get rid of snow before you had your Toro? Right&ndash;you shoveled it! Before there were motorized snow plows, men with shovels had to clear most of the city&rsquo;s streets. That&#39;s the way it was done in 1907.</p><p>On December 16 that year, Chicago was just getting through a major snowstorm. Clearing the streets in and around the Loop&nbsp;was a priority.</p><p>Snow removal was then the responsibility of each ward superintendent.&nbsp; Downtown, in the First Ward, the super hired 312 day laborers to remove the snow. Their job was to shovel the snow up into the back of horse-drawn wagons.</p><p>Once the wagon was full, the teamster would drive the wagon to the end of Van Buren Street, then dump the snow into the lake. The wagons were also hired on a daily basis. They were paid for each trip they made.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-27--Michigan Avenue.jpg" title="Clearing snow off Michigan Avenue, 1908 (Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>You can guess what happened. As the <em>Tribune</em> put it, the drivers began&nbsp;&ldquo;nursing their work along.&rdquo; Instead of dumping all their snow into the lake, they were coming back to the job site with part of the load still in the wagon. They&rsquo;d have to make more trips, and get paid more money.&nbsp;</p><p>By afternoon the drivers were becoming bolder. One person noticed that every fourth wagon returning from the lake was piled with snow&ndash;the drivers weren&rsquo;t bothering to dump any of it. They were just driving up and down Van Buren.&nbsp;</p><p>The situation was reported to Mayor Fred Busse. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll look into it as soon as I can get in touch with the ward superintendent,&rdquo; the mayor told reporters. &ldquo;They ought to have an inspector for those wagons.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>That was the snow scandal of 1907. Today&nbsp;Chicago has&nbsp;the most modern&nbsp;methods of snow removal anywhere, and we are assured that our full-time city workers always give us an honest day&rsquo;s work for an honest day&rsquo;s pay. Am I right?</p></p> Wed, 27 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/snow-removal-plows-trucks-and-snow-blowers-105740 Chicago set to tie another weather record http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-set-tie-another-weather-record-104777 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F74153367" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago is set to tie yet another weather record, as&nbsp;Tuesday could mark 319 days without an inch or more of snow, breaking a 72 year record.<br /><br />Even though most of the city saw big, beautiful flakes falling softly around Chicago last Saturday, National Weather Service meteorologist David Beachler says it didn&#39;t count.</p><p>&quot;I believe it was just a few tenths of an inch,&quot; Beachler said. &quot;So, yeah, unfortunately that didn&rsquo;t have a dent in this record.&quot;</p><p>According to Beachler, Chicago usually sees a total 10.5 inches of snow by this time in the season. This year, however, only 1.3 inches have fallen. And with a forecast showing temperatures reaching the 50s by the end of this week, those hoping for more January snowflakes might be waiting a while.</p></p> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 15:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-set-tie-another-weather-record-104777