Currently in Chicago — May 20th, 2022

Muggy Friday; Storms Friday Night into Saturday; Cool Saturday and Sunday

The weather, currently.

We will be experiencing all kinds of weather as we go into the weekend across the Chicagoland area. Friday is shaping up to be on the hot and humid side. Temperatures will reach the mid-80s, but dewpoints in the mid-60s will make it feel a bit muggy. There's an outside chance of thunderstorms Friday morning, but the rest of the afternoon looks to be dry.

An approaching storm system will bring a front across the region Friday night into Saturday morning. This will bring us our best shot of heavy rain this weekend. Rainfall totals of up 1 to 3 inches could be possible. Some of the storms could be strong-to-severe with hail and damaging winds being the main concern.

Once the front moves through early on Saturday, temperatures begin to plummet. It will feel chilly for late May standards with temperatures only in the 50s on Saturday with showers on the backside of the front. Sunday, skies clear, but the cold air remains in place with highs around 56ºF.

—Anthony D. Torres

What you need to know, currently.

As a heatwave sweeps across the nation, Denver is set to see some significant snowfall this weekend, with temperatures dropping from the 90s to the low 30s. Snow in late-May is unusual, but not alarming — nothing compared to 1816, which is known as the Year Without a Summer.

In April of 1815, Mount Tambora — a volcano in present-day Indonesia, that had been dormant for 200 years — erupted, sending a plume of ash the size of Australia into the sky and causing a volcanic winter. The ground froze in July and August, snow fell in June, crops and livestock died off — causing widespread famine. According to the New England Historical Society, farmers, who had already shorn their sheep for the summer, tried to tie their wool back onto them, to no avail.

Allegedly, the founder of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Robert Thomas, had mistakenly printed copies predicting a cold, snowy July that year. Upon discovering his mistake, he had the copies destroyed — only to be vindicated by the volcanic winter.

The basic principles behind volcanic winters are what have inspired researchers to look into certain kinds of geoengineering—namely shooting aerosols into the atmosphere, that would block the sun and effectively mimic the effects of a volcanic eruption.

The risks to geoengineering are manifold, however. Although it may succeed in cooling the climate temporarily, geoengineering is not an argument against reducing emissions and could very well end up worsening the situation.

Alan Robock, a climatologist at Rutgers University outlined some of the risks in a 2016 paper, including ocean acidification, widespread drought and famine, and rapid warming if stopped (once you stop shooting aerosols into the atmosphere, the planet warms faster than if you’d done nothing at all.)

“So far geoengineering research concludes that there is no safe Plan B,” Robock writes. “And provides enhanced support for mitigation and adaptation.”

—Rebecca McCarthy