Chicago Department of the Environment tracks unpredictable weather due to climate change

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Chicago (CBS) — Temperatures hit record highs in Chicago on Tuesday, and many people are out and about enjoying the weather in the city.

But experts say the unseasonable weather is an example of unpredictable weather, something everyone will continue to experience as a result of climate change. This is a particularly strong example, where a powerful and dangerous storm arrives with a cold front, dropping temperatures from the mid to upper 70s to below freezing within hours, accompanied by single-digit wind chills.

The Chicago Department of the Environment is tracking and closely monitoring temperatures this summer.

Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday both reached 70 degrees. Just before 5 p.m., the temperature in Chicago was still 71 degrees, while on the other side of the cold front, in Fargo, North Dakota, it was 6 degrees at the same time.

Wednesday’s forecast high temperature is just 29 degrees, with wind chills in the teens or even single digits.

“This is a chaotic system,” Dr. Rao Kotamarthi said. science Director of the Center for Climate Change Resilience and Decision Science at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. “So it gets hot, then it gets cold.”

And for two days warm weather February may be pleasant for humans, but it will have a devastating impact on reptiles, amphibians, birds, bees, and other wildlife.

So what is happening in Chicago to deal with this chaotic weather related to climate change? Kayla Woods with the city’s Department of Environment had some answers Tuesday.

Molina: “As we continue to see the effects of climate change, we may continue to experience more unpredictable and volatile weather. Your office is prioritizing addressing this issue citywide. Do you want to?”

Woods: “That’s absolutely true. It’s remarkable that we can have such high temperatures as early as February, because in Chicago we know that our bodies are not prepared for these high temperatures. It’s very important to look at these trends. It’s also important to recognize that they are, in a sense, a harbinger of things to come. ”

This is behind the work the department is currently carrying out across the city. Last summer, CBS 2 followed the team and its partners in Chicago’s 77 official communities, tracking temperatures across the city to see how the heat affected his area.

The ministry is currently working on a project to create a special heat index that could lead to solutions for areas where temperatures are felt the most, such as adding green space or ensuring that certain building materials are used. I am.

“In the context of climate, it is important to recognize the burdens felt by climate change, or some of the impacts of that change. Those burdens are not felt in the same way in all geographical locations. ” Woods said.

And while Tuesday’s temperatures are not considered extreme heat, Woods said they are an example of why the work the department is doing and will continue to do is so important. .

“The issues of climate change and climate awareness and response are big and can be very overwhelming for some, but we have a really powerful opportunity to bring together policies, programs, services and educational opportunities. I think it’s a great opportunity to create,” Woods said. He said.

CBS 2 also reached out to Illinois climatologist Trent Ford, who said that while two June-like days in February may seem like a small trend, it signals a big change. Stated.

“The National Weather Service will confirm the day’s summary tomorrow morning, but if this is indeed the hottest temperature, it would be a new record for February 26th and the third warmest February on record. .The record was 75 degrees.” February 27, 1976. Tomorrow’s high temperature is forecast to be 74 degrees, which could be close to an all-time record for February. Also, the expected low temperature tonight is 53 degrees, and the overnight high temperature for February is 53 degrees. is 54 degrees (since 1925)…so we may be getting close to that too.

“Snowfall amounts this season are about 8 to 9 inches below normal in Chicago. Normal snowfall amounts at this time of the season are 29 to 30 inches, but at O’Hare we’ve had 21 inches so far.”

“Very mild temperatures and low snowfall are typical of strong El Niño winters. Additionally, the long-term winter trend is toward warmer Chicago weather due to anthropogenic climate change. The driving forces of these two contributed to this.”This winter season is almost certain to finish in the top 10 warmest on record for Chicago, and could end up in the top 3-5 warmest. .

“As you said, a strong cold front will cause temperatures to drop early Wednesday morning. Wednesday’s daytime high could be 20 degrees colder than tonight’s overnight low. The cold air will continue into the weekend,” but we’ll quickly be back in the 60s this weekend. ”

“One last question: What may seem like a relatively small trend in warm winter days represents a significant change. Many of the effects of a warm winter are cumulative, with abnormally warm days For example, the timing of perennial plants and trees breaking dormancy depends on winter temperatures, so more warm days bring them closer to breaking dormancy earlier, and freezing Similarly, earlier springs and later autumns may increase the allergy season and worsen air quality issues in cities.”

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