Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ohio Street, August 29

I expected a larger crew today but in the end only Joe and I showed up. If one believed the forecasts we would have 67 degree water and fairly wavy conditions in this sheltered area, very wavy conditions elsewhere. Thats why we came here to Ohio Street. Coming early we had free parking and it was plentiful.

Perhaps because we came early it was hardly wavy at all, in fact it was flat, with chop, except for the opening near Oak St. where, as usual, there were 2 foot swells. The water was between 63 and 64, this was confirmed by Bob Z., the only other person I know who also wears a temperature watch to collect Lake temperatures. Bob was there as today's teacher of the open water swim class that has been going on this sumer. Air temperatures were also in the low 60's and it was mostly cloudy, but no rain while we were there.

Joe and I swam to the end of the official swim area and back. We noticed a current, so coming back was faster. It also seemed warmer. It is strange but this will be my only full distance swim in Lake Michigan this August!

Given the weather lately I don't see a 70 degree lake for the rest of the season, rather water in the low to middle 60s for September. So the only way it will get better than today will be if the sun comes out.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Evanston, August 28

Our outdoor pool was closed again today so once again I decided to try Evanston just to check conditions. There was no wind but there were 3 foot swells. The nice thing about swells rather than wind waves is that the water was locally smooth past the break zone, so swimming was not bad.

The water was a warm, relative to the last two weeks, 62, just as I expected. I swam about 20 minutes using a thermal cap and could have swum longer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ohio Street, August 23

Last weekend we tried to swim in Evanston but it was too cold. Through the grapevine we heard that Ohio street was nice and warm. For that reason and also because we thought it might be too wavy in unprotected Evanston we went to Ohio Street. It appears that the cold water has simply been moving south at a couple of miles a day and finally got to Ohio street. We, Joe and I, were very disappointed but not surprised, however there were a lot of surprised triathaletes getting in some last minute practice. We watched various other non-wetsuited swimmers get in the water, swim 5 to 10 strokes and get out. The water was 57. There were also 1 to 2 foot breaking waves on the beach, but behind them it was just choppy, as would be expected at that location. We decided to not bother. I drove Joe back to our hot indoor pool for his swim and I just went home and had breakfast.

For the record probably the most accurate water temperature measurement, besides my own, is the once a day measurment you can get in text form from the Chicago office of the national weather service. Go directly to then scroll down to "Southern Lake Michigan water temperatures".
The announced temperature for "Chicago Shore" at 9AM today was 59 which is not too far off of my reading of 57 at 7:30.

This is the first time I have been to Ohio street this year and I am happy to report, that on Sunday with no events in the Loop, parking was pretty easy thanks to the new meters. And they don't even charge before 8AM.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still Cold, August 19

Our local outdoor pool where we work out this part of the summer was closed this morning due to electrical problems so rather than swim indoors I used the time to go to Evanston and check the Lake temperature for myself. The official temperature maps at have finally caught up to the fact that the Lake was cold Saturday so I thought that since they were so wrong in one direction, maybe now they are wrong in the other. But no, the Lake is still cold. In fact colder, I measured 56 by shore.

Otherwise it looked nice, and I would have swum a little bit, but I didn't have my warm cap and 56 is just too bloody cold for even me. So no swim.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Evanston, August 15

No Lake swims for me the last two weeks since I was swimming out of town various places. As far as I can tell no one else on our Lake crew was out either.

I talked Jody and Ellen to join Joe and me at the lake this morning. It was bright, sunny and warm with the water perfectly flat by shore and only light ripples further out. Only one problem, the water was 58 degrees.

Apparently we are having our annual August inversion. Most years at this time we do have a few days like this with 58 not uncommon, even if the Lake had been in the 70's earlier. Usually it is the presence of warm surface water and west winds that causes the surface water to fall and new water from below to come up near shore. Since the Lake has never hit 70, at least not according to my measurement and I am the only reliable source, I was somewhat surprised at having such a strong inversion. Also there were some news items about uncommonly cold Lake water earlier in the week and I figured that whatever inversion we had should have occured. The winds have been from the west, but not strong and we have had warm sunny days this last week, so the Lake SHOULD have warmed up. But I guess I have been swimming the Lake long enough to know that the Lake rarely does what it SHOULD do.

Anyway, Jody and Ellen tested the water and opted to stay and enjoy the beach. For safety reasons I suggested to Joe that we do a half swim and see how we felt. So I did about half a mile and got out, Joe felt fine and did another half mile lap but was starting to feel cold. Joe drove us home without incident so he must have been OK, but his hands were still cold to our touch when we got home.