Spring came on a Saturday.
It was February 18, a little over a month until the vernal equinox, but already there was more light in the mornings and evenings. It was the balmy 70 degree temperatures that took people by surprise. It felt like a mild April day, except the ground was still brown, and the buds on the bare trees had just begun to swell.
Where was the snow? It had been conspicuously absent this winter, and if this was a cause for concern, most people didn't seem to mind the clear streets and visible sidewalks. And today, they were ready with sneakers and T-shirts, cargo shorts and hoodies. How did they have such perfect spring outfits?
How strange it seemed to be standing outside, checking phones in bare feet!
It was as much a mystery as the sudden appearance of leaf blowers, colored chalk and cats rolling on the sidewalk.
In California, there were floods and mudslides. In New Hampshire, there were piles of snow. Where was February in Chicago, the February that brought blizzards on Ground Hog Day in 2011, and Valentines Day in 1990?
The blue sky was sharp and bright as a day in March. Music blared from passing cars.
Where had all the people come from? It wasn't just the regular runners and people out walking their dogs. Little kids were riding tricycles. Bigger kids were practicing moves on skateboards, and tossing baseballs in the alleys.
Grownups, too, lingered on the sidewalks instead of the usual Saturday sprint to their cars. Some were riding bicycles, raking leaves, putting out the summer chairs.
And it was a perfect day to open windows. There was laundry drying outside, colors flapping like prayer flags.
What was this balmy madness? The smell of barbecue filled the air. There was laughter on front porches.
As the evening turned indigo, and the lights came on, people went back inside, wondering at this gift of a day, and another day like it tomorrow.
What could be causing this unseasonable warmth? Here is an explanation from NWS Chicago---