Let’s say winters in the future in the Chicago region turn out to be not as cold, do not involve as much snow, and/or include more warm days. In just the last month, we have experienced wind chills of roughly -30 degrees below zero and 50 degree days. The Chicago region has had moments of winter but not a full month of winter. Would Chicago residents like a long-term shift away from winter?
On one hand, many Chicago area residents complain about the winter. They make clear their opinions about the cold, snow, potholes, salt, longer traffic times, winter gear, heating bills, and more. At least a few vacation in warmer climates during the winter and some move to warmer climates.
On the other hand, it is hard to imagine the Chicagoland experience as it is known now without winter. What about the social capital created by griping together? The possibility of a white Christmas? The pride about shoveling and still doing life when talking to people in parts of the country where a light amount of snow shuts everything down? Invigorating winter outdoor activities? Supposed “Bears weather”? Jokes about the two seasons of winter and construction? And so on.
Perhaps new weather patterns would lead to a reconfigured understanding of what winter is. People can adapt to change over time. They can find different ways to bond and different experiences or group identities that bring them together. The long-told tales of the Blizzard of 1967 or Snowmageddon 2011 will fade further into the archives. Chicago could still have a winter that is different than the South or West even if it s different than what it is in the past.