Expat Magazine

Battle Royale : Weather Edition

By Zach Zine @Int_In_Debt

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of “Battle Royale.” As you can see from the title, this edition is dedicated to weather.  The contestants: Chicago, Illinois and Taipei, Taiwan.  Today’s battle will consist of four rounds, one for each of the four seasons.  Let the battle begin.

Taipei Sunrise 2

(Quick note: We have only lived in Taipei for about 15 months now, so our experienced weather is limited.  All of the averages, from Taipei and Chicago, are taken from Wikipedia.com.  All of the average temperatures are average highs and lows for each of the three months of each of the seasons averaged together.  All of the average precipitation/rainfall/snowfall totals are taken from average amounts for each of the months of each of the seasons added together.)

Round 1 – Spring


  • Average Temperature: High – 58.73 °F (14.85 °C) / Low – 41.40 °F (5.22 °C)
  • Average Total Precipitation: 10.48 inches (266.19 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 6.5 inches (16.5 cm)

Chicago springs are kind of a crap shoot, and the averages above only tell you half of the story.  The fact of the matter is that in the spring months the temperatures tend to fluctuate wildly.  One day it could be 80 °F and sunny.  The very next day it could be 30 °F and snowing.  That is not an exaggeration.  (As you will see soon, this wild fluctuation and unpredictability is sort of a theme with Chicago and its weather patterns.)  At the same time, the weather does get noticeably better and more steady as the spring months move towards summer.   But, it would still not be all that surprising for there to be snow, or even a minor snowstorm, in April.  Not cool.

Bottom line:  Chicago springs can be great, or they can just be extended winter misery.  We seem to have more memories of the latter, and less of the former.


  • Average Temperature: High – 78.23 °F (25.68 °C) / Low – 66.23 °F (19.02 °C)
  • Average Rainfall: 23.33 inches (592.58 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 0.0 inches (0.0 cm)

Our one spring in Taipei was a fairly pleasant one.  Temperature-wise, Taipei in the spring time is quite beautiful with only small fluctuations in temperature.  This makes dressing very easy.  But, it does rain a lot.  (As you will soon see, this is a theme for Taipei, much like unpredictability and fluctuation are for Chicago.)  In fact, it is probably easier to just assume that you need an umbrella when you leave everyday.  Umbrellas might as well become a part of your arm, and that sucks.

Bottom line: Taipei in the spring months is pleasant temperature-wise, and a total bummer rain-wise.

Winner of Round 1 – TAIPEI!

In the end, nice, consistent temperatures and lots of rain trumps wild temperature fluctuations, a bit of rain, and possible snow.  Fucking snow?  C’mon Chicago, get your shit together.  Taipei, don’t get too cocky.  Rain sucks, too, just not as bad.   Winning this battle is akin to being the last baby to shit its diaper.

Round 2 – Summer


  • Average Temperature: High – 82.07 °F (27.82 °C) / Low – 65.27 °F (18.48 °C)
  • Average Total Precipitation: 12.06 inches (306.324 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 0 inches (0 cm)

Summer in Chicago is BY FAR the best season for the city.  The temperature is not too hot and not too cool, just perfect.  The fluctuation from the days to the evenings gives you a great reprieve from the hot days, but not too cool that you need to wear a sweatshirt.  It is great beer drinking weather (seriously, bar life in Chicago in the summer is a must do).  It is great beach weather.  It is great cookout weather.  Really, it’s just great weather.  While there are summers that don’t live up to the hype we’ve created above, those anomalies are just that, anomalies.

Bottom line: Chicago in the summer = fun and sun.  Hell ya!


  • Average Temperature: High – 92.03 °F (33.35 °C) / Low – 78.2 °F (25.67 °C)
  • Average Rainfall: 35.16 inches (893.11 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 0.0 inches (0.0 cm)

Summer in Taipei is the WORST.  Seriously, the temperatures themselves are horribly hot, but they don’t even tell you the half of it.  The humidity is what kills you.  It feels like you are drinking the air, and within two minutes of being outside you WILL be completely soaked in sweat.  Going to work is, therefore, a nightmare.  Add into that factor that the low is almost as high as the high is in Chicago, and you realize that you just don’t get a break here in the summer.  Showering multiple times in a day is completely necessary.  Furthermore, add into all of that the typhoon season sits smack dab in the middle of the summer and, boom, you’re fucked.  Seriously, watch this video.  That isn’t even from a direct hit from a typhoon, just one strollin’ on past.

Typhoon Saola Via: usatoday.com

Typhoon Saola
Via: usatoday.com

Bottom line: Ya, you fuckin’ suck Taipei summer.

Winner of Round 2 – CHICAGO!

This was never in question.  Chicago was ahead from the beginning and won in a landslide (pun intended).  Chicago in the summer is our favorite place in the world.  It has an amazing, social atmosphere, all of the restaurants have patios and/or giant movable windows, and there are countless festivals, parades, etc.  If you ever go to Chicago, go in the summer.  We couldn’t emphasize that enough.  Taipei, we have nothing more to say to you.

Round 3 – Fall


  • Average Temperature: High – 62.23 °F (16.79 °C) / Low – 45.90 °F (7.72 °C)
  • Average Total Precipitation: 9.96 inches (252.98 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 1.40 inches (3.60 cm)

Ok, so think of Chicago’s fall as the opposite of Chicago’s spring.  Instead of starting out shitty and slowly turning nice it starts out pretty damn nice and quickly gets real shitty.  In September you get the tail-end of summer and you think to yourself, “This ain’t too bad.”  You might even be teased by a little extended warmth.  But then, BAM, cold and shitty.  For example, as we write this (October 23, 2013) the high according to Weather.com is 45 °F (7.22 °C) and the low is 31 °F (-0.55 °C).  According to friends and family, it even snowed yesterday.  Ya, thanks, but no thanks.

Bottom line:  Starts out great before hitting you with a punch in the gut.  Chicago, you can be a real dick.  Good thing you’re still on our good side from the summer.


  • Average Temperature: High – 81.70 °F (27.61 °C) / Low – 71.80 °F (22.11 °C)
  • Average Rainfall: 23.33 inches (592.33 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 0.0 inches (0.0 cm)

Fall in Taipei is the BEST season here, and it isn’t even close.  Sure, it starts off a bit hot, and there is still the danger of typhoons and some rain, but fall here is basically just summer in Chicago.  I mean, look at the average high and low for Taipei in the fall compared to Chicago in the summer.  Almost identical.  Just to single out one month, October is the best month ever here.  Beautiful weather, great temperature, and not too much rain.  Awesome.  For a comparison between Chicago and Taipei today, Taipei’s high was 77 °F (25 °C) and the low was 69 °F (20.56 °C).  Ya, you can’t beat that, even though it did rain a bit today.

Bottom line: Chicago summer = Taipei Fall.  You now know how we feel about Chicago’s summer, so same goes for Taipei’s fall.

Winner of Round 3 – TAIPEI!

Like Chicago in the summer, Taipei in the fall totally Ali’d the shit outta the competition.  Taipei in the fall is the perfect place to go travel, see the beautiful landscape, go to the night markets, have a barbecue, and, all around, just go outside.  Don’t ask too many questions, just go.

Round 4 – Winter


  • Average Temperature: High - 34.2 °F (1.22 °C) / Low – 20.87 °F (-6.18 °C)
  • Average Total Precipitation: 6.55 inches (166.37 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 29.90 inches (76.00 cm)

Nope.  Just nope.  While we do occasionally miss snow, we don’t miss a single damn thing about Chicago winter.  It is a cold, desolate, slushy, windy, horrible place.  No one wants to go outside.  The only reason you do go outside is because you have to, or because you maybe want to do some sledding (probably one of the only pluses).  It is just bad.  For example, we give you “Snowmageddon 2011″.


Via wattsupwiththat.com/

Via wattsupwiththat.com/

Bottom line: Yes, those are cars.  Yes, that is Lake Shore Drive completely deserted.  No, that is not “The Day After Tomorrow.”  Enough said.


  • Average Temperature: High – 67.67 °F (19.81 °C) / Low – 58.23 °F (14.57 °C)
  • Average Rainfall: 12.87 inches (326.64 mm)
  • Average Snowfall: 0.0 inches (0.0 cm)

Winter in Taipei is fairly nice as far as temperature goes (especially next to a place like Chicago).  But, that is pretty much it.  While the rain totals are not as high as the other seasons, the reality is that it rains every day.  Not hard.  Shitty, misty rain that never stops and always makes sure you are soggy enough to make you a bit cold and uncomfortable.  Like spring, your umbrella is a necessity.  Like summer, going to work is miserable and ends in you being soggy, albeit for different reasons.  It just pretty much sucks, like a shitty and depressing indie movie.

Bottom line:  Cool, but not unbearable.  The rain, though.  The stupid, constant rain.

Winner of Round 4 – TAIPEI!

Congratulations, Taipei, but realize you didn’t win on your own strength.  Rather, you won because your opponent was fighting with no legs or arms.  Hooray!

Overall Winner: Taipei with 3 rounds to Chicago’s 1.

Ok, in conclusion, we have been purposely snarky and whiny in this post.  Much of what we complained about is hyperbolic and, therefore, not entirely true.  But, at the same time, much of what we said was true.  In truth, we love both Taipei and Chicago.  We lived in Chicago and its surrounding areas for all of our lives except the past 15 months.  When, or if, we move back to the U.S., Chicago is at the top of our lists.  In a similar vein, we love Taipei.  We came here with the mindset that we would only stay for a year, and now we’re planning on staying for three.  What we our trying to convey is that there are plenty of things to complain about no matter where you live, weather just happens to be one of the easiest ones there is.  Most of the time, there are plenty of annoying and shitty things going on with the weather on this Earth, and many times there is one time of the year that truly stands out as the best time to be in a place.  Take what we talked about above and use it when you make decisions about visiting Chicago or Taipei, but also realize the real greatness in both of those places lies beyond their climates.

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