CHICAGO — Chicagoans basked in the warm weather Monday, which provided an oasis of relief from a winter that appears without end.
As the mercury climbed to 53 degrees, Julie Simpson was one of several who ventured to Lake Michigan with her dog, Lucy, who got to stay outside for twice as long as usual.
"It's all about her," said Simpson, 52, of Buena Park. "She's enjoying the warmth and liking that I want to stay out here longer."
For Simpson, the warmth wasn't as much a sign of summer approaching, but that she had survived her first winter in Chicago after moving to the city eight months ago. She planned to celebrate with another first, her first bike ride to work since the "brutal" winter began.
Even though it has been a tough winter, Monday actually surpassed the average temperature for the date, 44, although it was nowhere near the record of 70 in 1955.
When Alyssa Weishaar, 31, of Boystown got a free moment from teaching fitness classes in the city, she knew exactly what she'd do with her lunch break.
Weishaar found the closest bench, at the corner of Wabash Avenue and Ontario Street, and sat in silence enjoying an activity she's missed since the cold temperatures took over: people watching.
"When you think of group fitness classes, you don't really think of talking, but it's a lot of that. It's nice to just sit outside and not talk," Weishaar said between sips of her coffee. "My schedule isn't really typical, so if it's warm out I can do it.
"I feel like it's been so long. I like to just sit outside, kind of settle down and watch," Weishaar added. "I'd just like to ditch the bus and ride my bike to work."
Weishaar may not be able to ditch the bus as soon as she would like. Temperatures are expected to drop again this week starting Tuesday evening with a 70 percent chance of snow and freezing conditions expected Wednesday, a spokesman for the National Weather Service said.
Rain and sleet are expected Tuesday evening, which should turn into snowfall after midnight. Winds are also expected to reach between 20-30 miles per hour Tuesday. The rest of the week will continue the "up and down" pattern of weather Chicago has been experiencing recently with weekend temperatures bouncing between 30-40 degrees, the spokesman said.
Contributing: Erica Demarest