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Janet Barwick’s Blog

The "New" Windy City

Janet Barwick

Posted December 29, 2011 in Saving Wildlife and WIld Places

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 My best guy, Chip Njaa, struggling to stay on his feet in the harsh Livingston Montana wind.

I have a bone to pick with the city of Chicago.  It’s your nickname as “the windy city” for which I take umbrage. In no way can Chicago be windier than Livingston, Montana.  I’ve been to Chicago many times, and I love the city—great food, great people and great art.  In fact it is one of my favorite cities in this country, but in all of my time there, I have failed to experience this “wind” in which you speak.  Therefore, I demand that you relinquish your grip on the title “windy city” and hand it over promptly to the good people of Livingston!

If you don’t believe me, check out this map of renewable resources from NRDC’s renewable energy experts. If you click on wind resources, you have to admit that most of Montana is a heck of a lot windier than the mild shores of Lake Michigan!

It seems that lately, all I’ve been able to think about is weather.  Weather has such an impact on people, affecting everything we do and how we feel.  It can warm your body on a summer day, or it can chill you to the bone.  And when the wind blows in Livingston, it can literally make you crazy!  Weather is such an integral part of our lives and I genuinely find the subject fascinating. 

For the last several days, the wind has blown consistently at around 35 miles per hour, but gusting to 60 miles per hour.  At times, the wind is strong enough to blow over semi-trucks driving Interstate 90—in  November 2007, wind gusting up to 80 miles per hour toppled semis, blew over signs and even picked logs off of logging trucks…I shudder to think about driving behind one of those big trucks. 

So why demand that Chicago give up their long-held title?  Because there must be some reward for living in such conditions.  I need to feel a sense of pride when I step out of my car and stagger toward the office or wherever it is that I end up because, since my eyes are partially closed, I never really know where I’m going.  I need to be able to say…this wind is nuts, but at least we can claim that we are indeed the windy city!  It should be emblazoned into every sign greeting visiting tourists…Welcome to Livingston, Montana, the Windy City…be cautious when exiting your car…doors have been ripped from their hinges!  On second thought, perhaps that’s not something that the Chamber of Commerce should highlight.

Whenever we have interesting weather phenomenon, I like to check in with Livingston’s resident old-timer, John Fryer, a vibrant septuagenarian whose family has lived in this area since 1883.  John’s mother loved to keep meticulous records about everything from snowfall to the price of hay, and would often make notes in her copious journals that would simply read, “windy.”  John assures me that there were many entries that include this dubious word but disagrees that Livingston should be saddled with the honor or bearing the name “windy city.”  John explains that while Livingston is very windy, other places, including Rochester, Minnesota, are far windier.  I take that under consideration and decide that if that were true, no person in their right mind would ever live there.  And my complaint is not with Rochester, but Chicago!

So Chicagoans…how about it!  Do we have a deal?  You don’t have to decide right away.  Take your time, visit our community and then make up your mind.  Will you remain the windy city, or will you generously allow Livingston to claim the title?  And to the good people of Minnesota…don’t go getting any ideas!

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Comments (Add yours)

Dave ReidDec 30 2011 09:07 AM

just a note... Chicago is known as the Windy City not because of wind per se but because of the amount of political hot air coming from Chicago prior to the 1893 World's Fair....

Elaine LehmanDec 30 2011 11:08 AM

Looks pretty windy! Now that Chicago has a new mayor, I think we could easily relinquish this title to Livingston, which can live up to it in the realest way. Happy New Year!

Janet BarwickDec 30 2011 11:20 AM

Thanks Dave! I must admit that I knew this fact about Chicago from Matt Skoglund who works here in our office and is a native of Chicago. A fascinating history to be sure...one more thing I love about the city! Its rich history!

LuAnn KowarSep 12 2012 05:32 PM

Livington, Montana can have the title to Windy City if it so wishes? Chicago received the nomer "Windy City" in deference to the metaphorical "Wind" of politicians who huffed and puffed too much hot-air. The nomer is commonly misunderstood to be associated with the City's climate, which does have very harsh winters, in which wind can be particularly biting, and, summer storms increasingly prone to "micro bursts" of destructive winds. But, from day to day, Chicago isn't really that windy, as you said when wanting to wrest the title for your Montana city. OK.

Janet BarwickSep 12 2012 05:38 PM

Thanks LuAnn. As I stated above in my response to Dave, I knew about the history of the title "windy city" prior to my post. I was just trying to have a little fun with the good people of Chicago while at the same time, pointing out how darn windy it is (literally) in Livingston, Montana. Perhaps a leap too far...

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