El Niño, the weather phenomenon that boosts global temperatures every few years, is expected to bring a warm winter to Chicago this year. And while local meteorologists talk about it like a blessing in disguise, the sucker might chip away at Chicago’s reputation as a postcard-perfect winter destination. Traumatized by record-breaking winters over the past two years, a lot of Chicagoans can’t help but get excited. There will be fewer traffic-jams, less winter gear to haul around, more reasonable heating bills, lighter hearts and slimmer waists. But you’ll start missing Chiberia soon enough.
Here are four ways that El Niño could be bad news for Chicago.
A lack of snow takes away the city's charm during the winter
Christkindlmarket, the German-inspired festival held at Daley Plaza, attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. It's one of the largest Christmas markets in the entire country. Visitors and vendors alike are flocking here from all over the world, eager to spend their cash on baked goods, hand-made ornaments and hot spiced wine served in a boot-shaped mug. However, temperatures in the 50s diminishes some of the festival’s allure. Imagine you’re flying from California to Chicago and set up camp at a hotel in the Loop, only to realize that your holiday fantasy—sipping steamy wine and biting into a chunk of processed meat while your cheeks are reddened by the chilly wind—was ruined by autumn-like weather. A snowless Christmas in Chicago is a pretty epic fail.
We won't take refuge in museums
From the Art Institute to the Field Museum, Chicago boasts an amazing roster of museums. But where connoisseurs see islands of knowledge, locals see cozy places to take shelter from hostile weather elements. With cheap or free admissions, the city's cultural institutions are family-favorites during arctic days. A lot of museums also make for great first-date spots for lovebirds looking to hold hands without their gloves getting in the way. Despite their initial motivations, by setting foot in these institutions people are expanding their general culture without even trying. During El Niño, visitors might take their business outdoors, missing out on lessons about art, science, history.
Chicago won't be as special
Angelenos pride themselves as victims of scorching heat. Seattle residents ask to be put on a pedestal for having to deal with the unnerving rain. Chicagoans, don’t have to convince anyone of the obvious: We are urban eskimos, riding out the blizzard year after year with a face mask on and a shovel in hand. Once El Niño blows some warmth in our direction, we'll lose one of the things that makes us stand out. Some of us might feel left out when out-of-state friends stop showering us with worried emoji and reassuring messages. And we certainly won't have as many wild photos of snow-covered cars to share on Instagram.
Chi-Town Rising won’t hold a candle to the Times Square ball drop
Tens of thousands of partygoers are expected to pop their champagne on New Year's Eve along the Chicago River, and watch a gigantic star ascend the west tower of the Hyatt Regency during the very first Chi-Town Rising celebration. While organizers are giving assurances that the weather won’t stop them, warmer-than-usual temperatures will inevitably put a damper on their attempt to outshine the famous ball drop ceremony in New York City. This might be an even harder punch at the city's prestige than the Great Chicago Fire Festival's underwhelming inauguration last year. New Yorkers will be entitled to ridicule us for trying to compete with their long-lasting tradition on a balmy day—and there won't even be any snow to cushion our fall.