A Brutal Chicago Winter, Global Warming, and Just Weather

A Brutal Chicago Winter, Global Warming, and Just Weather
February 17, 2014

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

I moved to Chicago in 2010 after five years of living in perfect Pasadena, California — where I looked at the sun setting on the beautiful San Gabriel Mountians every day during what for East Coasters and Midwesterners can be a miserable train commute home.

Sure, sometimes the mountains were on fire, but I wasn't too concerned. The view was still beautiful to a man raised in Pittsburgh. Hell, I played softball in the shadow of the historic Rose Bowl —  at night in December and January. How could one find something to complain about weather wise? As far was I as concerned, Pasadena in winter was the definition of Lower 48 paradise.

But for most of my life I've known what "real winter" is like. I hate it, but I can endure it. My blood didn't get "vampire thin" during my interregnum from actual weather for five years in SoCal. And I enjoyed the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. It was a great one day reminder of what winter really is like for most of the country.

But this year has been brutal — as if I moved to Winnipeg, not Chicago. As you're reading this on the morning of February 17, 2014, Chicago is getting another six inches of snow. That wouldn't be so bad except for the 60 inches of snow that has already fallen. That's about 250 percent more snow at this date than has usually fallen in a typical Chicago winter. We have had almost no days to melt it off all year — this being the coldest winter in Chicago in generations — and we still have about six weeks of winter left to go. This is already the snowiest winter in 34 years in Chicago. And if we get one more significant storm after this one, Chicago could see its snowiest winter EVER since records began in 1884.

So why is the title of this post, "A Brutal Chicago Winter, Global Warming, and Just Weather"? Well, these things happen. I feel bad for the residents of Chicago from 1977 to 1979. They averaged almost 90 inches of snow each of those winters. Less than a handful of times in the intervening years has the snowfall been even half that amount.

Back in the late '70s, talk of an approaching ice age was all the rage. And in the '90s and '00s, man-caused "global warming" caused by man was the fashion. Even Robert Kennedy Jr. talked of his kids never enjoying a skiing or a sled ride.

But I’m not so vain to believe this season’s anomalies in Chicago and elsewhere prove a given climate theory. Weather does not equal climate — though that is what the alarmists always say.

This year has just given Chicago a winter that makes me angry. It will pass. Spring will come. And the real data about what is happening to our climate will endure.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)