Is This Chicago’s First Ever Dib-Less Winter?
With Chicago experiencing some of the warmest March weather on record, meteorologists say winter has become officially the third warmest on record.
Very little snowfall and extra warm temperatures have made this winter more bearable for Chicago drivers in many ways.
But perhaps the most overlooked benefit is a winter without the tradition of using junk to save street parking space after a heavy snow.
With winter officially ending Thursday, it looks like Chicago, with just a few minor outbreaks, has essentially had a dibs-free winter.
Photographer Amy Loeffler, who’s love of using street junk to reserve parking inspired her to create a blog called ChicagoSnowParking a website dedicated to documented what she considers a quaint tradition.
“I have to admit as much as I love documenting the snow dibs I’ve enjoyed the break from the cold winter this year,” says Loeffler.”With the lack of snow and consequently dibbing, this season my blog traffic is low but then again so are my posts. I started a Facebook page so hoping that will help expand my blog audience.”
One organization which calls themselves Chair Free Chicago is dedicated to eradicating what they consider an anti-social, anti-neighborhood tradition and is quite pleased by the lack of junk on city streets this winter.
“Like most Chicagoans, we’ve got no complaints about a mild winter and certainly haven’t missed seeing broken lawn ornaments in the streets,” says Chair Free Chicago spokesperson Nicole Nejati. “But we’ve probably put on a pound or two from missing out on shoveling.”
Daniel Ott, a second year PhD student in History at Loyola University of Chicago, while a recent transplant from the snow country of Minnesota, began studying the subject last winter with “Project Snow Chairs” a project for a graduate history class he took.
“As to the lack of snow this winter – dibs clearly has not been happening on any sort of justified scale,” says Ott concurring with Loeffler and Nejati.
During the course of his research, Ott believes he has discovered the origins of dibbing which, not surprisingly has its roots in the Blizzard of ’68.
“I did some basic newspaper research on the history of the topic and it emerged as a ‘news worthy’ phenomenon in 1978 when Streets and Sanitation formally announced they would be cleaning up dibs objects,”explains Ott. “The practice itself probably began in 1968 when the city formally acknowledged that it would not plow residential streets because of the scale of the storm. In all, the practice is an informal privatization of snow removal by the city that could not handle the scale of the problem in a densely populated.”
Ironically, in the midst of one of the least snow challenged Chicago winters in history, Ott gave presentation of his findings last month at the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.
While the odds are low, it would not be out of the question for Chicago to get more snow before the season is over. In fact, last April 17th, Chicago did get hit with a decent snowstorm and going back to 1970, the city got slammed with nearly 11″ of snow on April 1st and 2nd after a 14″ snow the last week of March.
But our dibs experts are skeptical.
“I’d say NO to what should be considered a snowstorm worthy of evoking dibs but I have noticed that the barometer for dibs seems to get lower each year,” says Loeffler. “So sure anything is possible in Chicago – I might still have a chance to get one more “storm” worthy of a dib photo session in before our 2011-2012 winter snow dibbin’ season is over.”
“I doubt we are going to see a dibs-worthy snow event this winter,” Ott says. “I hesitate to chalk that up to global warming, because I do not study meteorology or environmental processes. However, I believe that it is somehow related.”
Nejati seems the most agnostic on the subject.
“Despite the odds, whatever Tom Skilling says, we believe,” quipped Nejati.
Photo courtesy and copyright Amy Loeffler.