OutFront OutThere: Chicago goes 335 days without a significant snowfall; why it might just kill us all
January 26th, 2013
03:55 PM ET

OutFront OutThere: Chicago goes 335 days without a significant snowfall; why it might just kill us all

(CNN) – It snowed in Chicago this week.

That might not seem like big news but it may have just saved us all from certain doom.

Just over an inch of snow settled on Chicago streets on Thursday, marking the city's first snowfall of at least an inch in 335 days.

According to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, the last time The Windy City went this long without a significant snowfall was 1884.

Since the start of this winter season, Chicago has recorded just over 2 inches of snow. That's about a foot less than anticipated.

And while the city of Chicago is reaping the rewards – it's $20 million snow budget is almost untouched – there is a human side to the story.

About 100,000 tons of salt were spread by Chicago’s trucks last winter compared with just 8,000 (so far) this season. 

That is a huge drop-off and terrible news for drivers and suppliers who rely on the white stuff to make the green stuff.

Besides, what are you going to do with all that extra salt?  Pack bodies?­


According to the Chicago Police Department weather is an influencer on crime.

When temperatures were 30 percent above normal and snowfall was 30 percent below average, Chicago’s murder rate spiked 66 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

"Unseasonably mild weather sends more people outdoors, helping to trigger more violence," says Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

The numbers back that up – the Chicago murder rate is up 16% for the year.

But if you think you can avoid the problem by avoiding Chicago, you're wrong.

The lack of snow is terrible news for anyone who needs to eat food to live.

The snowless winter is doing a number on winter wheat, a common crop in the Midwest used to make bread and other food items.

Snow cover actually serves as an insulator for the crop, protecting it from arctic cold snaps, by keeping soil temperature closer to freezing than subzero.  The record low snowfall has hindered the growth of winter wheat and made it vulnerable. 

And it's not just winter wheat that's having a "croppy" season.

Many plants in the region rely on moisture from melting snow during the spring. If the snowless winter yields to a dry spring, the no-snow will render the growth of these plants a no-go.

Try to remember that the next time the weather makes you flurry-ous.

Follow Fahiemah Al-Ali and Christopher Moloney on Twitter: @FalaliCNN, @Moloknee.

soundoff (No Responses)

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.