The rogue waves were coming.
Ten feet. Twelve feet. Higher.
It was all over the news. The rogue waves could soon be pounding into Chicago like a posse of bandits, a band of terrorists, the horsemen of the apocalypse.
An alert had been issued from 9 a.m. Tuesday through Wednesday morning.
Stay off the breakwalls. Stay out of the water.
The surest way to get Chicago people to the lakeshore, short of cheap beer and fireworks, is to promise them something as exciting as rogue waves, which is why I grabbed a sun hat Tuesday afternoon and headed to the beach.
Before I went, I did what any modern person does in anticipation of disaster. I consulted Google.
What exactly was a rogue wave anyway?
I'd seen big waves in Chicago. A few summers back, as I was biking, a huge swell of water crashed into the lakefront and a towering spray swept me off my bike and almost swallowed the bike whole.
But rogue waves? They sounded especially ominous.
"Rogue, freak, or killer waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries," said the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "but have only been accepted as a real phenomenon by scientists over the past few decades."
Rogue waves, other sites reported, are also known as extreme waves, abnormal waves and monster waves.
Armed with that vast vocabulary, I went in search of terror.
The 31st Street beach on Chicago's South Side is one of the city's prettiest. The bike path is wide and smooth. The skyline rises in the near distance. In summer, the prairie grasses and wildflowers shimmer while the masts of white boats clang in the harbor. Most uplifting of all, parking is just a dollar an hour.
I cared about none of this. All I wanted were rogue waves.
There were, in fact, some waves, more than usual in the windy day, little white-topped swells that the kids splashed in.
But rogue? These waves were about as roguish as Justin Bieber.
While I waited for the rogue waves to arrive, I called Chicago's climate master for further enlightenment.
"I hope you haven't been misled into thinking you're going to see one," WGN's Tom Skilling said. "I'm a little surprised as much has been made of this as has."