As I step out on a beautiful day in Oak Park and River Forest, I am in awe! I can’t believe we have relatively dodged the reputation of the Chicago arctic winter.
In November I went into semi-mourning for the coming weather as December was approaching and I expected we would have multiple snow events. The almanac prediction was for a harsh Chicago winter. Yes. Really. “La Nina winter forecast: Chicago should brace for more snow than normal in winter 2022-2023, NOAA says.” (ABC-7 Chicago, Oct. 21, 2022).
There it is, science said so. This winter was supposed to be bad. Everyone is allowed a mistake in life or two, even science and weather forecasters. So I patiently waited through December, fully sure that January would give us horrible, arctic, frigid, cold weather, the kind that slaps you in the face with needle-pricking cold. It’s a time where the leading cause of death is January, which does not fail to bring cold to Chicago.
But the strangest thing happened: January came and yes there was a small snowstorm, but there was no arctic chill. There was no polar vortex, even when the rest of the country experienced strange weather anomalies. My faith remained solid. If December and January were warmer than usual, we would definitely have the worst blizzard of our lives in February.
Yet, alas, Our Lady of Global Warming, the patron saint of warm weather, destruction of ecosystems, and deterioration of natural habitats due to changes caused by the warming effects on the Earth, were as kind as a kitten to Chicago, which received the best benefit of such a formidable and destructive force.
I don’t know how to feel about that. I am conflicted. If I were a caveperson, I would imagine myself pointing to climate change saying, “Climate-change bad. Chicago-weather good.” Am I supposed to feel exuberant that we have escaped the terror of an overabundance of fluffy balls of water falling from the sky and arctic temperatures? Do I feel like we have won the weather lottery even when California is having an existential crisis because it is snowing in almost March? It is hard to remember that global warming and climate change is bad even when the effects are being so good to “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Walking and driving around Oak Park and River Forest, it’s easy to get excited that it’s March and we seem to have dodged the winter bullets except for a few days. But when the weather almanac is wrong and science can’t help us predict the weather anymore, it’s time to be concerned — even while we go outside in just a sweater or do the Chicago-style thing and wear a puffer jacket with shorts. We can feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and take a non-brisk walk in the sunshine in a season that is still technically winter.
We still need to change our habits, buy EVs and do whatever we can to save our earth for future generations.
With so many sunny days, you can finally start your spring cleaning early and air out your house but remember:
This is bad!
EL Serumaga is a resident of River Forest and founder of ecovici.com, a site for products from only sustainable vendors.