12/30/2011 01:30 pm ET

Mild Chicago December: Good News For City, Bad News For Some Businesses

Chicago's mild winter-to-date has come as a relief to the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, particularly when compared to last winter's snowmaggedon, but it has also hit some local businesses reliant on snowy, cold weather with significant losses of income.

As the Associated Press reported on Thursday, the city of Chicago has only gotten 1.7 inches of snowfall so far this winter, compared to 8.7 inches in a "normal" year. In December, the city spent $500,000 on snow removal, compared to $6 million in the same month last year.

The lack of snow on the ground has also impacted many businesses that count on wintry weather. Sam Gye, who owns a snow removal business, described the scenario to ABC Chicago as a "tough situation to be in." Gye hired 30 seasonal employees and bought two new plow trucks to prepare for what was expected to be a brutal winter, but has yet to utilize either investment.

Local hardware stores have also taken a hit from fewer Chicagoans buying shovels, snowblowers and salt, according to ABC.

In lieu of snow, Chicagoans dealt Friday with more rain, bookending one of Chicago's wettest years on record. The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that 2011's 49.41 inches of precipitation that fell to that point was surpassed only by 2008's record-holding total -- 50.86 inches. The yearly average rainfall in the area is just 36.89 inches.

But snow could very well be on the way soon, according to meteorologist Tom Skilling. In Skilling's Chicago Weather Center blog, he noted that the coldest air of the season to date will be riding into the area Sunday into Monday. The results are anticipated to be blustery and, potentially, snowy and Skilling continues to stand by his and other meteorologists' warnings that winter could yet pack a nasty punch for the city.

Meanwhile, the forecast for the New Year's weekend will continue the area's mild streak, with Saturday's high temperature expected to hit 50 degrees.

Photo by bradhoc via Flickr.

WATCH a report on how the dearth of snowfall has impacted Chicago: