The Day St. Patrick Met St. Sebaldus

Abundant sunshine. Temperatures around 80. Sailboats out on Lake Michigan, beyond the still-empty harbor.

Just your average St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago.

Get real. Chicago has never in recorded history seen a stretch of weather this warm and this long in mid-March. The average high temperature this time of year is 47. For three consecutive days dating back to Wednesday, the high has cracked 80, and it may do so again today.

For perhaps the first time ever, the pipers marching in Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade today must have been glad to be wearing kilts for a reason other than ethnic pride. My sympathies go out to those whose marching uniforms are more calibrated to the way the weather usually is here on March 17.

It’s as though the patron saint of Ireland decided to take this year off, and had St. Sebaldus  stand in for him. “Saint Who?” you ask. Sebaldus was an 11th century German who is the patron saint against cold weather.  He also happens to be the patron saint of Nuremberg and of Bavaria, in case you were still wondering.

And no, not being of the faith, I didn’t know that until a few minutes ago myself. Amazing the stuff you can learn from the Internet.

Seems like a good place to catch up on the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown. According to Weather Underground…

On Wednesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a record high of 81 — that’s 35 degrees above normal —  a low of 46 and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 81 (26 degrees above normal), a low of 54 and no rain. Holy virtual tie, Batman! But because this was so unprecedented for Chicago, it gets the point.

On Thursday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 81, a low of 48 and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 82, a low of 54 and a trace of rain. Same thing, folks.

On Friday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 82, a low of 46 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 59, a low of 51 and .02 of an inch of rain. No brainer on this one. So Chicago finally shows signs of making a comeback in the overall contest, cutting D.C.’s lead to 125-100.

And, yes, I’m a homer, even at this, and I will, when it’s feasible, put my thumb on the scale for Chicago. As I’ve said before, if you don’t like how the game is played, start your own weather contest.


The Lake Shore View: Looks Like November Out There… Bleak

Well, I’m now exactly one week from completing another full round-trip around the sun. We won’t say exactly how many times I’ve taken this route. Let’s just say it has been often enough that I should know where the speed bumps and potholes are better than I do.

If I have any complaints about the timing of my birthday, is that it is in mid-November. I’ve only lived in four places in my life — New York, Michigan, D.C. and Illinois — and in all four, mid-November tends to look like this:

Gray. Damp. Chilly.

Which reminds me of one of our anecdotes, from 1997, when Barb and I were planning our first trip to Ireland.

At the time, the metropolitan Washington area hosted a major late-summer Irish festival that brought in big-name Celtic music artists from across the Atlantic. Barb, who is the Irish-American half of the Benensons, and I (Irish by choice) volunteered and thus got invited to the after-party, where we struck up a conversation with a musician and told him proudly about our travel plans.

But when we told him we were going in November — well outside the usual summer tourist season — he shook his head gravely and said, “Oh. November. Bleak.”

As it happened, we lucked out with the weather. Not that it was bright and sunny, but nor was it rainy, cold and, well, bleak. Had I not managed to damage a rental car with a foolhardy attempt to drive by the damnable British driving rules, it would have been an almost perfect trip.

But our musician friend wasn’t wrong: Same time the next year, Ireland endured a huge gale that caused tremendous flooding.

Similarly, November is not ordained to be awful in my world up North. Here’s what Chicago looked like on Saturday:

So will I be able to dress comfortably when we go out for a celebratory dinner next Monday, or will it be layers or umbrellas? The extended forecast doesn’t give reason for a lot of optimism: a few showers with a high of 53 degrees. But that could change. Think positively.

Meanwhile, according to Weather Underground, Chicago O’Hare on Sunday recorded a high of 59, a low of 41 and no rain. Washington Reagan National had a high of 59, a low of 37 and no rain. Holy crap, that’s as close and low-scoring as that LSU-Alabama football game. So let’s assume I just kicked a field goal in overtime to win this point for Chicago.

That brings the overall score in the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown to 58-37 Chicago. Winter’s getting closer, and I figure I’ll just have fewer opportunities to put my thumb on the scale.