Daily Archives: June 21, 2010

What's The Windiest City? Not Boston, But…

Published June 21, 2010

She calls it the AirDo. (Amancay Maahs/Flickr)

She calls it the AirDo. (Amancay Maahs/Flickr)

First of all, I think it’s funny that people argue about Chicago’s well-known nickname as though it’s “Windiest City.” But I’ve lived in windier places! they cry.

Chicago is a windy city. Have you ever been to downtown Chicago, in the winter, when those winds from Lake Michigan blow through the skyscrapers? Your bones hurt. Chicago is windy. No one is saying it’s the windiest city in America.

This is a debate we provoked with Adam Ragusea’s piece today on Radio Boston.

So what is the windiest city? It’s not Boston, although Boston is windier than Chicago, depending how you slice the data. According to NOAA’s recordings of average wind speed over many decades in 275 U.S. locations, Boston’s average wind speed in a given year is 12.4 miles per hour. Chicago’s? 10.3 MPH.

The mad scientist in Adam’s story, MIT’s Alex Kalmikov, summed it up neatly: “Chicago is less windy than Boston.” I know, it can be hard to believe. Of course, windiness can be measured in different ways and in different places. As Adam points out, weather in Chicago and Boston is observed at the airports — and as George Carlin used to say, No one lives at the airport.

Sorry, I’m getting long-winded. You really ought to listen to Adam’s story to get a sense of how tricky this can be.

Now, what is the windiest place on record? St. Paul Island, Alaska. But that’s not fair. It’s Alaska. The windiest place in the lower 48 states? The observatory on Great Blue Hill, which clocks in at a whopping 15.3 MPH. The windiest place in (contiguous) America. Right there in Milton.

Worcester clocks in at 10.3 MPH, the same as Chicago. I think it’s safe to say Massachusetts is among the windiest states in the union.

As for the origin of that nickname, “The Windy City,” I don’t want to go there. Many callers and commenters said — insisted! — that the phrase refers to bloviating politicians, not weather phenomena. But that just happens to be the most popular myth. The truth is that linguists have never arrived at consensus on the origin.

Update: Well, color me embarrassed. Elizabeth correctly points out in the comments that Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is way, way windier, at 35.1 MPH average. That said, I think that data point is an outlier, as I doubt many people live atop Mt. Washington. And hey, at least New England still gets the distinction!

Just In: 4 Boston Libraries Get Reprieve

Published June 21, 2010

The Globe’s Andrew Ryan reports:

Four Boston libraries targeted for closure at the end of the summer have won a reprieve and will remain open for an undetermined amount of time, according to sources in the Menino administration.

The branches will still be closed, just not as soon. The city has not figured out what to do with the buildings once they’re vacant.

Library officials have said that trimming some branches is not the worst thing the world — and that keeping busy branches open on Sunday, for example, may be a better use of city money. Friends of the BPD are emboldened by the final firefighters contract, which costs the city a few million less than expected after union concessions.

Why, When Do Moms Listen To WBUR?

Published June 21, 2010

We spend a lot of time thinking about when and how people listen to 90.9 FM and read wbur.org. It helps us figure out where to invest people and money.

Some conventional wisdom: Our biggest radio audience listens during “morning drive” — 6-9 a.m. — the time people are getting ready for and then driving to work. Our biggest online audience reads (and listens) on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — the time most people are at the office.

Now we’re turning our attention to moms. Surely moms everywhere read my blog, so our news director, Martha Little, a mother of two in Brookline (and eight in the newsroom), poses this question to you, Mom:

I moved here last September from Los Angeles, where I had been the senior editor of NPR’s defunct midday news magazine, Day To Day. I’m also a mom with two kids who is finding that Boston is an infinitely easier town to live in than Los Angeles. To wit: I ride my bike to work, and my kids walk to school. In LA, one kid rode the bus 45 minutes to school, the other 20 minutes. And I had a half-hour commute at 5 o’clock in the morning.

I’m trying to get a handle on the lives of other women in and around Boston. I would love to hear from women in the Hub to get a sense of your life and what you might want to hear on the radio and when you want to hear it? For example, with WBUR’s latest series, on college loan debt, we got a huge response from parents who are coping with debt themselves.

We’re wondering if we played that particular series at the right time in the morning. Is it hard to listen to WBUR in the morning getting ready for a long day? What are the times when you’re best able to listen to WBUR? For example, is the 7 a.m. hour busier than, say, the 8 a.m. hour?

Do respond us in the comments. Hey, moms, what do you think about a tweetup at the station?

Update: Check out the discussion on Facebook.