Whether you are visiting Chicago or looking to make a permanent change, the city offers distinct seasons, diverse culture, and an enormous selection of wildlife.
There are over 2.6 million people in the Windy City, according to SuburbanStats.org. 44 percent of residents are identified as white, 32 percent as black or African-American, 28 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 13 percent as some other race, and 5 percent as Asian. American Indian and Native Hawaiian make up less than one percent of each. 20.9 percent of the population was born in another country and 35.9 percent of Chicago residents speak more than one language.
According to 2015-2016 statistics, there are more women living in Chicago (1.39 million) than men (1.3 million). One million households in Chicago are multigenerational and 10.3 percent of the population is made up of seniors age 65 and over. 8.7 percent of these Chicago-land seniors are the householders.
Chicago is known as “The Windy City” due to its weather affected by the air gusts from Lake Michigan. The average wind speed during the winter months is 11 miles per hour. Even during the summer months, you can expect the wind to reach 8 miles per hour on average.
The temperatures can reach into the 90s in the summer and as low as minus two degrees in the winter. The average temperature, however, is between 16 degrees and 84 degrees. July tends to be the hottest month with temperatures in the high 80s. You can expect January to be the coldest month with the temps dipping below the teens.
Lake Michigan also greatly increases the snowfall experienced in Chicago each year. The average annual snowfall between 1981 and 2010 was 36.7 inches with 10.8 inches falling in January. The rural areas experience more snowfall than downtown due to the “urban heat island effect” which keeps the temperature in these industrialized areas slightly higher. These higher temperatures contribute to a larger amount of runoff and increase the chance of flash flooding in the city.
The biggest problem you may face in Chicago is lake-effect snow and flooding due to the run off as the snow melts. The city also receives a large amount of storms throughout the year. You should keep an eye out in flash flood zones and keep a kit in your home and car in case of power outages or traffic jams, especially in the winter months. Depending on the area in Chicago you choose to move to, you may want to consider flood insurance.
The Chicago River attracts wildlife of all sizes. Along the riverbank, you may find American mink, beavers, coyotes, red foxes, river otters, and white-tailed deer. The Forest Preserves of Cook County has a list of 300 birds that live along the Chicago River. If you venture to the river, take your binoculars and try to identify species like the belted kingfisher, osprey, great blue herron, or the double-crested cormorant.
The river is also home to reptiles, amphibians, and macroinvertebrates like crayfish. You can find prairie flora on the outskirts of the city and trees throughout the city, but mostly in the southern areas.
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