Ice-covered rocks and sand just south of Lighthouse Beach

… that for a few days, cold and snow were on most everyone’s mind, as a polar vortex swooped in. A few brave bunnies skimmed the snow.

… that damage to trees was minimal during this polar vortex. Paul D’Agostino, the City’s Environmental Services Coordinator reports that, as of Feb. 1, his division had received only two reports of weather-related tree damage: “One tree (a linden) was discovered to have extensive internal decay and the low temperatures caused it to split open. The other (an elm) just had too much weight on its limbs and several broke off and fell or were hanging. Both trees will be removed before the end of
the day today (Feb. 1).”

… that, speaking of the frigid weather, folks are now remembering some things they could have done, had they been brave enough to go outside for a few minutes: tossing a cupful of hot water into the air to see if the droplets would freeze before hitting the ground, and blowing bubbles with enough glycerin to make them firm.

… that information in the past two columns about possible consolidation of CTA station stops was old – very old, in fact. After the last issue of the RoundTable went to press, Jessica Hyink, the City’s Transportation and Mobility Coordinator, sent this information in response to a Jan. 16 request: “The flyer referenced in the December 26, 2018, Traffic Guy column on the potential for ‘L’ stop consolidation in Evanston is an archived document from 2010. Stop consolidation was evaluated as part of the CTA Phase One Red/Purple Modernization (RPM) program but was not selected as part of the funded projects in Phase One.
“The RPM program beyond Phase One requires analyzing potential improvements/projects along the Red-Purple corridor and then selecting projects, with community input, into a ‘Phase Two’ and possibly additional phases beyond that. CTA is studying the implementation of additional future phases of the RPM program and in 2018 entered into an agreement with the City of Evanston to share financial resources that support planning efforts in furtherance of improvements to Purple Line ‘L’ stations, track, and infrastructure in Evanston. The planning efforts will analyze potential capital construction projects and group those projects into a realistic RPM Phase Two. It will also take into account the future steps required to implement a Phase Two project and explore funding scenarios. CTA is currently refining the planning efforts scope of work, along with other related project documents, and will be bringing a consultant on board.
“There are currently no plans to consolidate any CTA train stops in Evanston, as the work of studying potential improvements to the Purple Line under the current planning efforts has yet to begin.” – Jessica Hyink, Transportation and Mobility Coordinator. So, status quo reigns.

… that, as many readers know, the City has agreed to foot the bill to replace the 5-million-gallon water reservoir located on Northwestern property – on what NU calls the “Reservoir Parking Lot.” The project is expected to begin shortly and continue through next February. NU plans to construct a green space atop the reservoir, no longer using the space as a parking lot. Folks entering or exiting campus via Lincoln should be alert for construction traffic.

… that HPCW, LLC would like to construct a car-wash facility at 2425 Oakton, with 20 vacuum spaces and four parking spaces. To do so, the company needs relief from the 10-foot setback requirements – they’re hoping for a three-foot setback.

… that, speaking of cold weather, Deanna Conner, wrote in “Earth” on Jan. 28, “The shapes of snowflakes are influenced by the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. Snowflakes form in the atmosphere when cold water droplets freeze onto dust particles. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the air where the snowflakes form, the resulting ice crystals will grow into a myriad of different shapes.” Ms. Connor notes that Wilson Bentley (1865–1931) of Jericho, Vt., was the first person to capture photographs of snowflakes through the use of a microscope attached to a camera. He maintained a collection of 5,000 snowflake images. Later, in 1951, according to Ms. Connors’ article, “scientists from an organization now called the International Association of Cyrospheric Sciences (IACS) devised a classification system that characterized snowflakes into 10 basic shapes.” Kenneth Libbrecht, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, observed that moisture and temperature affect the formation of snowflakes. Ms. Connor says Prof. Libbrecht found “the most intricate snowflake patterns are formed when there is moisture in the air. Snowflakes … formed in temperatures below -7.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-22 degrees C) consist primarily of simple crystal plates and columns. Meanwhile, snowflakes with extensive branching patterns are formed in warmer temperatures.”

… that Punxsutawney Phil, made his annual predication on Saturday.
Phil didn’t see his shadow, which is supposed to mean that spring is on the way. According to Stormfax Almanac’s data, Phil sees his shadow about 85%
of the time but has only a 39% accuracy. Hmmm. Feb. 2, known here as Groundhog Day, is astronomically speaking, a cross-quarter day – the first one of the year, falling at about the midpoint between the winter solstice (Dec. 21 or 22) and the vernal equinox (March 21 or thereabouts). reports that German settlers arriving here in the 1700s brought with them the tradition of Candlemas Day, tied in its origins to the pagan celebration of Imbolc. According to the superstition, if the weather was fair on that day, “the second half of the winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home.  If the sun came out Feb. 2, … it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.
On Feb. 2, it is less than seven weeks til spring, so there will always be at least six more weeks of the winter season.

From our readers: TG: [I recently sent a letter] to the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding the proposal for a medical facility at 524 Main St.: As a resident on the square block bordering Hinman, Kedzie and Chicago avenues and Main Street for over 45 years, I have witnessed a constant growing need for more parking spaces in this area.Where there now stand two townhouses at 812-16 Hinman, there used to be 46 parking spaces. Three forms of public transportation (Metra, CTA, buses) have stops at Main Street, which swells the demand for parking spaces. This proposed facility, “Medical office, NorthShore University HealthSystem,” would obviously produce traffic troubles as patients are dropped off and assisted into the building. This is occurring already on Main Street at Athletico, and bringing traffic to a halt. Further, such “car-crowding” would be an impediment to fire and police vehicles. A further handicap is the fact that this oversized structure involving 524 Main was built with a loading-dock entrance too small to accommodate delivery trucks. Hence, the alley adjacent to 524 is almost always full of trucks, trying to service this building or other businesses and restaurants in the area. Also, this alley is used by many drivers as a shortcut to avoid stoplights. Because of the complexity of the businesses on Main Street, there is a constant dropping-off of people and “tons” of pedestrians. It is simply getting too crowded, bordering on “unsafe.” Over the years I have petitioned the Third Ward aldermen to provide more parking facilities for the area. My pleas have always fallen on deaf ears.                     – Gordon Peters

From TG: You certainly have made a case for the need for more parking, Mr. Peters. About a half block west of  Chicago Avenue, though, behind the Italian restaurant, is a little-used City lot. TG suspects it will become more used if your fears about additional traffic materialize.  

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… kudos to the City crews, who braved last week’s deep freeze and cleared the streets and parking lots efficiently and effectively. Here’s a pic of the crew clearing the Library Lot on Jan. 28.

… that the Year of the Earth Pig, which began Feb. 5, could portend a good year for all. gives this explanation as to why the pig is the 12th of the zodiac animals. “According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place.” Nationsonline says the Pig is associated with the hours of 9-11 p.m. Its chubby face and big ears are signs of fortune, and it represents “luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty, general prosperity, symbolizing a hard working, a peace-loving person, a truthful, generous, indulgent, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable person with a large sense of humour and understanding.”