ASK TOM: Does Chicago's environment need snow?

Dear Tom,

Are there any disadvantages to the lack of significant snowfall so far this season? Does Chicago’s environment need snow?

Samuel Espinosa, Chicago

 

Dear Samuel,

The adverse effects of snow in an urban area like metropolitan Chicago are well known, but bear in mind that every environment is adapted to its climate. When the weather makes huge and persistent departures

 

from the climatic normals (like this winter’s lack of snow), the environment suffers in many ways. A protective blanket of snow prevents the ground from freezing and provides shelter to many small plants and animals. Snow provides water, an especially important consideration because the Chicago area is currently experiencing

drought. And don’t forget snow is the key ingredient in the winter sports industry and it is a source of business for snow removal operations.