The City of Chicago spent $37.3 million for snow removal and other costs related to the Groundhog Day Blizzard that dumped more than 21 inches of snow on the city in early February.
The emergency spending from Feb. 1 to Feb. 9 to deal with the third-largest snowfall in the city's history was more than double the city's entire 2011 snow budget of $17.4 million. It includes about $14.5 million spent at Midway and O'Hare airports, as well as costs incurred by the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools and other agencies.
The city hopes to recoup much of the costs through federal disaster relief funds and airport revenue, and remain under its snow budget overall for the year when all is said and done, according to Peter Scales, spokesman for the city Office of Budget and Management.
This year's blizzard cost less than half the $76 million the city spent on snow removal and clean-up for the 1999 blizzard that brought 21.6 inches of snow--less than half an inch more than the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 blizzard this year.
Scales attributed the vast difference to the fact the 1999 storm started during the New Year's holiday, requiring the city to pay plow drivers holiday overtime wages. Also, that storm lasted longer than this year's, and the snow then was icier and more difficult to remove, he said. "Plus, technology now is better," he said.
Prior to this year's blizzard, the city had spent about $4.3 million on snow removal and clean-up in 2011, Scales said.
In 2010, the total snow expenses for the city were $14.7 million.