Things Get Hotter When the Sun Goes Down

Saturday, May 19th was the rare night that was hotter than the day that preceded it.

This phenomenon, while uncommon, is not unheard of. Because almost all heat on land comes from the sun, you might think it would take a volcanic eruption or some other extreme event to make it warmer at night, but this Saturday it was a combination of two different but everyday processes: one is heat shielding and the other is shifting weather systems.

Heat shielding occurs in cities that have a high density of concrete and asphalt, which creates what Science and Technology calls “urban heat islands.” These materials hold heat longer and release it over a long period of time, so cities are often warmer than their surrounding rural areas where green spaces let off heat more quickly.

Large bodies of water (like Lake Michigan) can also cause warm nights because water holds heat longer than earth.  Even an outdoor pool can warm the air around it in the early evening after a hot day.  In Chicago, people often think of this process as having the opposite effect, making it “cooler by the lake.” That coolness is generally caused by the breezes coming off the water or by water staying cooler after cold weather in the same way that it retains heat after warm weather. In the early fall it is sometimes warmer by the lake.

As for Saturday’s warm night, the lake and the asphalt may explain some of the extra heat, but that’s just one of two processes going on. By itself, the urban heat shield doesn’t explain why it actually got hotter at night. It makes sense that cities would be closer to their daytime temperatures at night than rural areas, but they should be at least a little cooler.

The second process has to do with normal patterns in the weather. The air in a given place has certain characteristics, like temperature, moisture level and density. In a three dimensional space where the air shares those properties, the air can be thought of as one mass, and the weather in that air mass is generally the same.

These air masses are continually moving. Denser, high-pressure air masses expand and push out into less dense low-pressure air masses. The border between two weather systems is called a front.  If the weather changes dramatically it is because a front has passed through the area and is now in a new weather system.

So going back to Saturday, we had a warm air mass pushing into the area coupled with heat being released by the asphalt and concrete of the city, creating a warmer night than the day it followed.


This article was originally published in Extra Newspaper.  It’s available in English and Spanish on their website.

Two Languages one Band: Interview with Bilingual Band Making Movies (Feature for Extra)

“El frio me a tormenta” or the cold torments me, is the chorus of Making Movies pulsing rock song Tormenta. It’s about missing your family and wanting to visit your home, and family at Christmas.  That’s something that many immigrants in the US, who fear they will not be let back into the US, don’t have the freedom to do.  It speaks to a difficult situation, but it’s not self-pitying or sad.  The song is defiant.  It makes for the kind of building, anthemic, song that the group the specializes in.

Making Movies, whose name was inspired by a 1978 Dire Straits album with the same name, is a truly bilingual band.  Their music doesn’t throw the odd word in a different language, it’s not Black Eyed Peas yelling “mazel tov” for some reason.  The band crafts powerful songs in English and Spanish that are fully realized ideas.

Making Movies’ chief songwriter Enrique Chi is a truly bilingual writer.  Born in Panama, Enrique writes most of his songs in English first, “Writing is a very unconscious thing…  I live in the US so still most of my day I speak more English than Spanish, so when I go to write a lot of times it starts in English and have to go from the English to the Spanish.”

Asked to elaborate on when and how they choose to translate a song into Spanish, Enrique’s brother Diego Chi (who is also in the band) adds, “It’s another tool in the tool box.”  If something isn’t working on a song one option they have in changing the sound or the feel is changing the language. Enrique finished that thought by saying “It’s funny ‘cause some of our songs just don’t work in English.”

Extra spoke with Making Movies at the House of Blues on a night they were scheduled to open for Andres Calamaro.  After the show was cancelled, the band was disappointed, but still excited about their tour.  It’s a reality for an up and coming band on tour that not every opportunity works out, Making Movies talked about having been stiffed by shady promoters on other tours.  Happily, this tour, which brings the band back to Chicago Saturday the 15th to play at Juniors in Pilsen, seems to be more good than bad so far.  Juan-Carlos Chaurand who plays percussion and keyboards for the band talked about how they have started to build a following in some cities, while others are brand new.

The band’s touring the country in a 15 passenger van that the five musicians share with their instruments.  Each taking turns driving.  With 20 shows scheduled on a three-week tour they play a show just about every day. Before starting the interview Enrique talked about how much he and the band love to play.  For a band with a lot to say in two languages, a lot of shows is a good thing.

Article also available en Español