Blizzard at the Boardwalk

If you live in the Chicagoland area, it will come as no surprise that Nature Boardwalk is currently covered in a thick layer of powdery new snow. The blizzard we experienced dumped about 20 inches of snow on Chicago. To document the impact on the zoo’s new urban ecosystem, I first took a few photos at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when the storm began ramping up.

At this time, you can barely make out the outline of buildings in downtown Chicago—visibility is already declining. In addition to a “before” photo of the boardwalk, I got a shot of a very chilly looking rabbit huddling under a bush, staring right at the camera, probably wondering if I posed enough of a menace to warrant hopping out from its temporary shelter. It stayed put.

Here are some photos that Director of Horticulture Brian Houck took on Wednesday, just as the snow finished falling.

I took the following pictures after the blizzard was over. As you can see, the sun has come out and we have blue skies offering a clear view of the Chicago skyline once again. At the boardwalk, the accumulation of snow has resulted in piers that are usually several feet above the water barely sitting above the snow level. The landscape is covered in wavy patterns created by wind against the snow.

Still, there are plenty of signs of life, as the tips of a tall prairie plants stick out above the whiteness and rabbit and squirrel tracks cross the pond and its surroundings. The tracks hint at how some of these animals waited out the historic blizzard; many tracks can be seen going in and out from under the boardwalk itself, where animals would have been relatively sheltered from the snowfall and the winds. The rabbit hole below highlights how the boardwalk served as shelter during its first blizzard!

Vicky Hunt

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