Guess It Will Be The Beer Barrel Parka For Cubs’ Opening Day After All

So if you read my post last week about the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day weather prospects and thought that the eight-days-out forecast of 64 degrees was overly optimistic — you’re a genius. With every day that has passed, the prediction has gone down… and down… and down. And now, the National Weather Service predicts a high of 45 degrees for Thursday’s opener; the Weather Channel pegs it a bit more generously as 52 degrees.

But sunny! Sunny is good. The Cubs’ opening game in 2003 was postponed. By snow.

Temperatures in the 40s are actually pretty much the norm for Cubs’ home opener. I trained for this game, my first Opening Day ever at Wrigley Field, by sitting outside in a cold rain for four hours at the Michigan State-Northwestern football game late last November. So 45 degrees and sunny? Ha! Bring it on!

I’ve got to keep this short, so here are some pretty spring pictures taken on the streets of Chicago yesterday. Yes, D.C., we have flowering trees, too.

The Lake Shore View: If It’s Going To Be 85 Degrees in Chicago, It Might As Well Be Spring

At least now we folks in Chicago can call this an “early spring heat wave” instead of a “late winter heat wave.” While yesterday’s record-setting high temperature nonetheless fell one degree shy of giving the city its sixth consecutive 80-degree day in March, today’s sunny celebration of the vernal equinox is expected to be accompanied by heat of upwards to 85 degrees.

For the record, the historic average high for this date is 48. The average high doesn’t hit 85 until, well… never. While Chicago usually has a fair share of broiling >90 degree days during the summer, the maximum average high temperature is 83 in the middle of July. I didn’t know that until I just did the research.

Last Wednesday, I published a little photo essay from a walk by Lake Michigan that included a picture with a leafless tree in the foreground and a shirtless man sunbathing by Lake Michigan in the background. But as though right on cue for the onset of spring (though actually a couple of weeks prematurely), the trees have started to leaf out.

You won’t find many Chicagoans complaining about digging out the short sleeves and short pants earlier than ever, this summer-come-early weather is so unprecedented — and  it is expected to continue well into next week — has spurred some concern that this may be a harbinger of a global warming apocalypse.

I am an environmentalist with serious concerns about global climate change. And on the other hand, it would be great for Chicago’s economy to be able to market the city as a great spring break beach resort. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Until proven otherwise over the course of a few years, we just have to assume this is a fluke, kick off our shoes and enjoy it.

Before I go out to soak up some sun, let’s catch up on the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown. There may be some of you who are new to the blog, so here’s what this is about. When I was getting ready last year to move from my longtime home of Washington, D.C., to Chicago, innumerable people felt compelled to warn me about how cold it is here. So when I launched Cooler on the Lake Shore last summer, I decided to do the Smackdown, in which I compare the daily weather in both cities and award a point to the winner.

Chicago actually got off to a big lead because the weather last summer was gorgeous, while D.C. had an awful August that included a hurricane. But D.C. managed to conjure up a virtually winter-less winter. And although Chicago itself had a mild winter by its standards, and the referee is the contest is an admitted homer, there was no denying that the weather on most days there was nicer than here.

Still, the contest runs for about another four months, which gives Chicago plenty of time to catch up.

According to Weather Underground…

On Saturday, St. Patrick delivered Chicago O’Hare a high of 82, a low of 58 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 75, a low of 52 and no rain. Beautiful day, too, but that point goes to Chicago.

On Sunday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 81, a low of 57 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 68, a low of 52 and no rain. Same thing.

On Monday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 78, a low of 61 and .03 of an inch of precipitation (we had no rain here on the Lake Shore). Washington Reagan National reported a high of 76, a low of 56 and .01 of an inch of rain. Chicago trifecta.

That cuts D.C.’s lead to 125-103.