It has been 320 days since there has been a measurable snowfall in Chicago, setting a new weather record for the midwestern city. The total snowfall amounted to only 1.3 inches as of Sunday, significantly less than the 11.5 inches Chicago winters usually produce by this time of year. The previous record of 320 consecutive snowless days had stood for 72 years, since 1940.

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The precipitation deficit could cause a lack of water resources later in the season. The Chicago river, which is typically frozen this time of year, seals the water and prevents it from evaporating. “The effect of a drought has been a devastating impact on the agricultural economy,” said Henry Henderson, the director of the Midwest bureau of the National Resources Defense Council. “These low levels in Lake Michigan could make the river reverse itself now into Lake Michigan, so we would have the problem of sewage going into southern Lake Michigan.”

However, this year’s mild winter is proving to be beneficial to the city’s finances, as a typical year of snow removal runs about $20 million. “It was in 2011 we used over 260,000 tons of salt. In 2012, we used a little bit over 100,000 tons. And so far, in 2013, we’ve used about 4,800 tons of salt. So, quite a big difference,” said Streets and Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Dominic Salerno to NBC News.

Via NBC News

Photos from Wikimedia Commons