Number of Nice Days

I’m relatively new to Birmingham, Alabama. I was nervous about moving to a place with famously long hot humid summers. My intuition since moving here is that there are many days throughout the year when, at some point in the day, the weather is nice for doing something outside with my kids.

Yesterday, Sunday, was very nice. To have such a nice warm sunny day in mid-December is strange to me. I grew up further north where Decembers are chilly. Here is a picture of a neighbor’s son enjoying the summer-like feel of this technically-winter day. This picture was taken at noon.

Although I am grateful for this particular day, I also think about the hot summer days when noon is a time to hide indoors with air conditioning. Is it nice here? How can that question be answered scientifically?

There is actually a great map of answers, available on several websites, credited to Brian Brettschneider, thanks to data from Iowa State.

This map confirmed my intuition. My old life in New Jersey was in the dark green zone, and my new life in Alabama is one level better, in terms of how many “nice” days you can expect in a year.

If you don’t have climate control, then you might be more worried about weather extremes. If you are lucky enough to have a regulated indoor environment, then a nice place to live is largely a question of how many days you get when it’s nice to “go out”.

This map accounts for “nice days”. I wonder if New Jersey would seem closer to Alabama if the measure changed to “nice daylight hours”. Yesterday was beautiful, but it was dark by 5pm. When I get time, I’m going to make a map of where in the lower 48 you can enjoy dinner outside after work many times per year (and why is it Southern California?).

Alabama’s Covid Data Hero

Housekeeping: There was no post yesterday on Economist Writing Every Day. It was my day to write and family responsibilities just took up every minute. This might happen occasionally.

Last week I wrote about American Data Heroes. There are many that I don’t know of , but I wanted to share the work of tireless Frank McPhillips. For months he wrote a succinct post every single day within a private Facebook group for concerned citizens of Alabama. Recently he switched to Substack, meaning I can share it here.

McPhillips summarizes and explains the Covid data for the state of Alabama, where I live. This is data that is publicly available, but most people like myself don’t want to do as much work as he does to understand it. He also understands when the reporting might be wrong or late.

I’m going to quote from his most recent posts.

Dec 5:

The Chairman of the Madison County Commission was more blunt. “We’re now talking about alternative space for a morgue”, he said, adding that he has never faced such a decision in 25 years of public service.

According to HHS, 87.7% of Alabama’s ICU beds are occupied… Our State added 3,390 more COVID cases today (incl. 655 probables), raising the 7-day moving average to 3,228 cases per day, which is twice the daily average 3 weeks ago.

Dec 6:

With 473 more cases, Birmingham’s home county, Jefferson, has a 14-day positivity rate that tops 30% for the first time. 

Dec 7:

Now, brace yourself for the updated hospitalization data:  2,079 patients (105 reporting hospitals), a jump of 163 patients in a single day. The Huntsville Hospital system reported 378 COVID patients, an increase of 76 patients in one week. DCH Health system reported 138 patients, double the number just 9 days ago. And finally, Regional Medical Center (Anniston) announced new visitation restrictions due to the pandemic: “For end-of-life care, two visitors will be permitted to remain in the patient’s room, without leaving or re-entering the building and without substitution”.

I appreciate all his work. It’s obvious when he’s getting depressed or exhausted, but he’s decided to keep going (almost) every day. He keeps writing new prose on how this is the most deadly “war” of our time. He wants people to keep fighting back and not get complacent. See his Dec 7 post for more war comparisons.

McPhillips has helped a lot of people in his locality. He inspires me for Writing Every Day.