Stories by patty wetli

Zebra shark. (Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

This Week In Nature: Zebra Shark’s ‘Virgin Birth’ Could Hold Key to Species Preservation

From industrious sharks to the bird of the year, here’s what caught our attention this week on the climate and nature beat.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Updating: Brutal Cold Grips Chicago, Temps Will Stay Below Zero

The snow total from Thursday was a mere 1.3 inches at O'Hare (though northwest Indiana and lower Michigan have been hammered with lake effect), but the real danger of this system was always the wind and cold, meteorologists said.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools Will Be in Session Thursday as Chicago Prepares for Bomb Cyclone

Classes are not canceled Thursday, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez announced. Chicago is expecting to get hit with a dangerous combination of high winds, extremely cold temperatures and blowing snow, creating whiteout conditions.

Chicago's new Climate Infrastructure Fund will support projects like the installation of renewable energy systems. (Los Muertos Crew / Pexels)

Chicago’s New Climate Infrastructure Fund Aims To Kick-Start Climate Action Among Nonprofits and Small Businesses

The fund will award grants in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for projects, including energy efficiency upgrades, green infrastructure or the purchase of electric vehicles.

High winds and low visibility, not massive snow totals, are hallmarks of blizzards. (Hans / Pixabay)

What Exactly Is a Blizzard? Probably Not What You Think

Let’s talk ‘bomb cyclone’ while we’re at it.

What will be the hallmark of the impending Christmas blizzard of 2022? Probably not a lot of snow, but that’s not what blizzards are about anyway.

Neighbors, preservationists and park advocates are calling for the demolition of an unauthorized annex to the landmarked Receptory Building and Stable in Humboldt Park. The building is leased by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which began construction of an adjacent archive facility without permits. (Top photo: Patty Wetli / WTTW News; Bottom photo:

Growing Pressure for Park District To Demolish Unauthorized Museum Construction on Site of Landmarked Building in Humboldt Park

The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture leases a historic landmark building in Humboldt Park. It began construction on an adjacent archive facility without obtaining permits.

Motus antenna assembly at Ryerson Conservation Area. (Lake County Forest Preserves)

Lake County Forest Preserves Waiting for Signs of Life, Joins Global Tracking Network

Lake County Forest Preserves has now joined a global wildlife tracking network, expanding the ability of researchers to follow the movement of migratory birds through the Chicago region.

(City of Chicago)

Chicago Launches Contest to Name Its Snowplows. We Call Dibs on ‘Dibs’

Chicago has launched a contest to name six of its snowplows — one for each snow district — and the competition promises to be fierce.

An abandoned salt mine has become a tourist destination. (Salina Turda / Facebook)

This Week in Nature: Millions of Trees Die in Oregon. Are We Ready for ‘Firmageddon’?

From a mass die-off of trees to a moose on the loose, here’s what caught our attention this week on the climate and nature beat.

(WTTW News)

After a Challenging Staffing Year, Chicago Park District Adds 8 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave

The Chicago Park District announced a number of new benefits designed to help with recruitment and retention at the December meeting of the district’s board of commissioners.

Callery pear blossoms. (sharonshuping0 / Pixabay)

Callery Pear on List of Species Illinois Assessing as Invasive. Here’s What That Means

The candidates include well-known banes like garlic mustard and wild parsnip, but also a plant adored by landscapers and property owners: the Callery pear tree.

Hegewisch Marsh, seen from South Torrence Avenue. (Google)

Feds Pour Big Money Into Coastal Restoration Projects, and Chicago’s Hegewisch Marsh Comes Out a Winner

The federal government has just announced its most significant investment to date in nature-based projects aimed at creating "climate-ready" coastlines, and Chicago is among the communities that will benefit from this latest round of funding.

Zari, Lincoln Park Zoo's 4-year-old African lion, is expecting a litter in January. Here she is with her cub, Pilipili, born in March 2022. (Lincoln Park Zoo / Diana Miller)

Lincoln Park Zoo Is on Lion Watch, New Cub Due in January

"A birth represents preservation of a species that has faced many challenges in the wild,” said Mike Murray, curator of mammals and animal behavioral husbandry.

(BLazarus / Pixabay)

This Week in Nature: Winter Olympics a Climate Casualty? Wildlife’s Answer to Elf on a Shelf, and Some Resilient Area Eagles

It’s been another wild week on the nature beat. The United Nations’ biodiversity conference kicked off Tuesday in Montreal with the UN Secretary-General calling humanity a “weapon of mass extinction.” Nowhere to go but up from there.

(Lim Yaw Keong / Pixabay)

The Moon Is About To Make Mars Disappear. Here’s How To View Wednesday’s ‘Eclipse’ in Chicago

Sky watchers will have their eyes peeled Wednesday night for a rare-ish celestial event: an “eclipse” of Mars.

(Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW News)

Sue the T. Rex Has Given Up a Limb for Science: The Dino’s Comically Tiny Arms Are Now the Stuff of Serious Study

Researchers at the Field Museum are embarking on a project to discover what was the point — if any — of T. rex’s tiny arms.

An abandoned rail spur on 59th Street is inching toward becoming the elevated Englewood Nature Trail. Pictured in 2020. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The $20M Check Is in the Mail. Federal Funds Coming to Englewood Nature Trail

Federal officials popped into Chicago Friday to celebrate the awarding of a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the Englewood Nature Trail.

Tens of thousands of riders participate in the annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade. (Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade / Facebook)

Ho, Ho, Vroom. The 45th Annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade Will Roll Through Chicago Sunday

Tens of thousands of bikers will vroom through Chicago Sunday during the 45th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

Aerial image of the distal end of a lava flow from Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone the morning of Nov. 30, 2022. (USGS / K. Mulliken)

This Week in Nature: Here’s What Made Us Think, And Laugh, From Volcanic Eruptions to Bears’ Ongoing War on Christmas

Every Friday, we’ll be rounding up some of the articles, videos, photos and social media posts that have caught our attention on the topics of climate change, the environment, wildlife, conservation and weather. 

(WTTW News)

Chicago Winter Parking Ban Takes Effect Thursday. What To Know Before You’re Towed

Starting Dec. 1, Chicago’s overnight parking ban takes effect on 107 miles of streets, snow or no snow, from 3-7 a.m. daily through April 1.

A northern long-eared bat showing signs of white-nose syndrome. Found in LaSalle County, Ill., in 2013, during a research expedition by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. (University of Illinois / Steve Taylor)

Northern Long-Eared Bat, an Illinois Native, Is Newest Addition to U.S. Endangered Species List. Can It Be Saved?

Despite habitat strongholds in places like Illinois, white-nose syndrome continues to decimate the population.

The deadly white-nose syndrome is threatening the northern long-eared bat — one of Illinois’ 13 native bats — with extinction. The race is on to find a cure and protect what’s left of the population.

Promontory Point, on the south lakefront, is beloved for its natural aesthetic, designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell in 1937. (Preservation Chicago / Eric Allix Rogers)

Promontory Point Supporters Push for Hearing in Front of Chicago Landmark Commission

Preservationists are pushing for Promontory Point to be granted Chicago landmark status. Will their case be heard?

Sandhill cranes. (ladymacbeth / Pixabay)

Have You Heard? Sandhill Cranes Passing Over Chicago in Near Record Numbers

Sandhill crane migration is reaching its peak. For those who've wondered whether there are more of the birds this year than in the past, the answer appears to be yes.

The annual “Christmas Around the World” exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry. (Credit: Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

Chicago 2022 Holiday Events Guide: Lights! Markets! Action!

Between indoor, outdoor and drive-thru options for light displays, it's safe to say this holiday season will be bright. We've also rounded up a baker's dozen of holiday markets. 

The proposed sale of the abandoned Damen Silos is drawing opposition from environmental and community groups. (WTTW News)

Friends of the Chicago River, Openlands and Others Join Chorus Calling on Pritzker To Halt Damen Silos Sale

“Any riverfront improvement opportunity should be part of a master plan that recognizes the Chicago River system as the wondrous natural resource it is rather than the uncared for alleyway it used to be,” said Friends of the Chicago River.

The original Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. (Eric James Walsh)

Christkindlmarket Is Back, Time To Get Your Gluhwein on Chicago. Here’s What’s New in 2022

One of Chicago’s most beloved holiday traditions — the German-style Christkindlmarket — kicks off this weekend, and it’s bigger than ever, with a new location in Aurora.