Sorry about the lack of postings for a while. I've been traveling and just arrived. Back in Chicago again. It's been that kind of year. Fortunately, I love Chicago, so for that reason I'm quite happy being here.
A lot of cities make the quip, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." I've even heard it said foolishly in Los Angeles, where the weather changes along the pace of a slow glacier. But for all the cities that quip it, few can match the reality of Chicago. How quickly can the weather change here? I honestly wasn't sure what to pack. Three days ago, it was 80 degrees. The next day it was 48.
I remember when I was going to Northwestern, which sits on the shore Lake Michigan bordering Chicago to the north. This was late in spring quarter, probably May. It was a really nice afternoon, so I went down to the beach. The temperature was probably around 75-80 degrees. All was well. Lots of folks sun-bathing on the sand. Then, the sky started to get a bit overcast, the temperature seemed to drop a little -- and within about 10 minutes people were throwing on their clothes and racing away from the Lake. That evening, I put on the TV news, and they said it was the biggest drop in temperature in a 15-minute period in Chicago history. I can't tell you the exact figure at this point, but it was around 20-30 degrees. I think it dropped into the upper 40s.
"If you don't like the weather, wait a minute" isn't a quip. They really mean "a minute."
One more example.
In 1998, I went with my dad to an afternoon Cubs game at Wrigley Field. I never bring a camera. This day, I happened to have a disposable camera that was half-used so I brought it along.
You can see it's a bit overcast, but it's a nice day. The flags over the scoreboard are blowing a little, but not all that much. And you can see the clock on top of the scoreboard -- it's about 1:35 in the afternoon.
Then it started to get windy. Papers started flying all over the place. Then it got very overcast. It started to rain. And then it got dark. Then pour. Torrential. And then it went beyond dark and became like it was the kind of pitch black you get at 3 o'clock in the morning.
When you look at this next picture, keep in mind that it's about 20-30 minutes after this photo above. And that it's a little after 2 PM. The early afternoon.
Yes, honest, this photo is at most a half-hour after the one above! It's a little after 2 in the afternoon. The sky was soul-crushing black. I can't impress upon you enough have all-encompassing black it was -- and it was the early afternoon. And it wasn't that the day had been dark all day and slowly progressed, but this happen in less than 30 minutes. And then maybe 15 minutes after this photo, part of the sky over Lake Michigan (in the direction you're looking) bizarrely turned green! A couple years later I was describing this to a friend who knew science really well -- I'd wondered if anyone would believe me, and it turned out that he said that it's actually a phenomenon he'd heard of that's occasionally known to happen, and when it does, it's over bodies of water.
But almost the most strange thing of all is that as heavy as the rain was (and the dugouts were flooding with a foot of water), the game didn't get cancelled. They were able to clear the tarp and finish playing. And that's because about 30 minutes to an hour later -- yes, we stayed -- the weather completely cleared, the sky was crystal clear blue, and you never would have known that it had been this hellish.
This last photo isn't immediately after the one above, but I took it when the game was over (about 90 minutes after play resumed). However, this is what it was like 45 minutes after the picture above.
It's not that the torrential rain and all-encompassing dark cleared up a bit but was still overcast -- it's that it's even nicer than when the game began! A gorgeous blue sky.
The three photos were taken within about 2-1/2 hours of each other, one Chicago afternoon.
It is just so odd that I happened to have a camera at the game that day. I don't remember taken one to a game at Wrigley...ever. I am thrilled that I had it that day. Because I don't think anyone would have believed me.
Seriously, if you don't like the weather in Chicago -- wait a minute.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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