While the digital elite shivered over their laptops and updated their status on social media, the polar vortex brought temperatures of -16 and -40 wind chills to the bundled masses at the bus stops and el platforms of CHIBERIA.
Meanwhile, a battle was going on in the tree-lined, snow-covered streets. The polar vortex may have stopped an alien invasion of this city by the Lake.
Normally rotating in a counterclockwise direction around the North Pole, the polar vortex was pushed farther south by a high pressure system moving over warm waters of the Pacific Ocean (where Indonesia is), bringing with it arctic temperatures not experienced here in almost 30 years! Many people were too young to remember such extremes, let alone a Superbowl Championship or leg warmers the first time around.
The invaders had not been in the city that long, either. No one knows for sure how they got here, but they were first discovered in this area in 2007, perhaps arriving in a packing crate at Pier 1. Since then, the invasion has been relentless, and seemingly unstoppable.
The aliens found this area completely unsuspecting, unprepared, and ideally suited to their way of life.
The name of these almost unstoppable invaders--Agrilus planipennis--the Emerald Ash Borer. Their target-- the many ash trees in backyards and parkways. They have been found in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, downstate Illinois, and in leafy neighborhoods of Chicago, spreading as far as Brookfield, Plainfield and Bolingbrook.
Adult beetles die off in the cold, but the larvae wait out the winter, hidden under the bark of ash trees, pupating and producing their own antifreeze! (How alien is that?!) But, they are NOT invulnerable. According to a Tribune report, sustained temperatures of -20 and below can kill them.
The subzero temperatures may not have been extreme enough, or lasting long enough to completely defeat the alien invasion. However, it is possible, a crushing blow has significantly reduced the invading forces.
Spring will tell. But for now, the polar vortex is receding.
CHIBERIA is melting, like a memory or a dream.
As for the survivors? They will be stronger, and better adapted to the weather, here. There is sure to be a sequel.
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