It’s not the heat …

5 Jul

So, today it is supposed to be 104 degrees in Chicago.  It hasn’t been this hot here in like, forever (it hasn’t broken 100 in more than 7 years).  If it goes just two degrees higher (106), it will be the hottest day ever in Chicago.  Which, of course leads me to write about such things.  I can’t say I have a concise story to tell.  Just some random observations.  It’s too hot to think enough to make a big story.

I grew up in Iowa – and well … in Iowa, the weather is a LOT more extreme than it is here in Chicago, which as a city, seems to hang its hat on its weather.  We’re windy (although that’s a misnomer), but there are windier places; we have hot weather, but obviously there are places that are much hotter.  We get cold winters but the winters here are so much milder than places like Iowa, Minneapolis, etc. that it’s a bit laughable.  But that said, one of the favorite things to do in Chicago is talk about the weather.  And make news about it.  (more on that below).

That said, Chicago weather IS unique and that’s because of our big blue friend to the east, Lake Michigan.  Lake Michigan is an interesting factor on it all – it’s one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world, and in reality, since all of the Great Lakes are just one big interconnected body of water, the Great Lakes system IS the single largest body of fresh water in the world.  Lake Michigan is a large “heat sink”.  In the winter it slowly gives off the warmth it developed all summer long, meaning nearer the lake it is a bit warmer than the rest of the area, and it calms down temperature extremes for as far as 100 miles out from the lake.  If the wind turns off Lake Michigan in the winter, we can get crazy amounts of lake effect snow – the cold air picks up lake water moisture and then when it hits the cool air over the land, the moisture condenses out and it snows like crazy.  In the summer, the opposite is true – it is this tremendous cool wall.  Approaching thunderstorm systems from the west begin running into the cool wall of air as much as 100 miles away, and begin to steer around it – sliding south and southwest.  Our area in the northern suburbs rarely has tornados as a result.  And, especially early in the season, you can have what starts out as a hot day and suddenly as the air starts to rise off the ground, the cool air from Lake  Michigan will rush off the lake to replace it – dropping the temps 30 degrees or more in just minutes.  Anyone who has ever gone to an April or May game at Wrigley Field has experienced this on more than one occasion.

And all that makes this hot weather in Chicago that much more newsworthy.  I guess.

Hot weather also brings on all sorts of related silliness and phrases:

“Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk”  And of course some d-bag news guy has to try every time.
It’s a scorcher! (Show me something that’s actually scorched.  I double dog dare ya.)
“Hot enough for ya?”  Huh?
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!”  Umm, it’s the heat too.  I can take humidity when it is 75 outside.

I have a good career pal, Maddie, (someone I’ve met through work) who is from Dallas, TX (although she lives in San Antonio now).  She’s lived around the southwest, and knows hot.  Her way of describing the heat (in her big Southern accent) was “Well, down in Houston, they got that humid hot.  Out in Waco and other places out west, they got the dry hot.  Here in Dallas?  It’s just Hot Hot.”

and etc., etc.  And when the TV news idiots get on the subject, well …

I get a kick out of the news media breathlessly telling us what we should and should not do in hot weather. All of it is “well, DUH!!”  Drink of lots of water. (Nope, going on a water fast!)  Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. (Hell no.  Where’s my NorthFace?) Stay out of the hot sun.  (Are you kidding?  And miss out on the tan of a lifetime?)  Make sure to take care of your children and pets have plenty of water and shelter. (Nope, the little shits are going to fry!)  Check in on the elderly. (I got enough to do with keeping cool.  Grandma’s on her own.), etc. etc.

Holy shit, an “Orange Alert”? Really? Why don’t you just say “It’s going to be f’ing hot out there.” That advice is amazing. “Get lots of Air Conditioning.” Huh, I’d have never thought of that on my own.

Back when I was in school, I originally planned for my career to be in TV news.  Now I look at the state of local TV news and just shake my head.  Really?  Is this all you’ve got to talk about?”

We need more weathermen like Ollie from Family Guy:

So, hey folks, it’s a hot time, summer in the city, back of my neck feeling dirty and gritty.

But I’m not going to give you advice about it.  If you can’t figure it out on your own, well … I think you’ve got greater issues.

As you were,

Stew

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