If you’re currently located above the Mason-Dixon line, then you are probably super-bummed right now. That’s because this winter has been the coldest that most major Northeastern and Midwestern cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and worst of all, Detroit, have seen since 1950, according to a recent index created by meteorologists.
The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, otherwise known as the AWSSI (pronounced like “Aussie”) or the winter misery index, was created in January of last year by meteorologist Barbara Mayes Bousted. AWSSI calculates the severity of a winter season using calibrations “based on temperature and precipitation (snowfall) thresholds for several sites across the central United States,” and then comparing it to the averages for each region. On a side note, Winter Misery Index is the name of my Chelsea Wolfe cover band.
According to AWSSI, this season has been worst for the good city of Detroit, which has been experiencing the fifth most severe winter to date—although it’s closer to the third most severe if you start tracking it from January 1st. In fact, almost half of the 24 cities that Bousted studied this time around have been experiencing winters that are among the 10 hardest in over 60 years.
Of course, as with all indexes, it’s not a completely perfect way to track who’s been having a worse time than everybody else. For example, it fails to take freezing rain or windchill into account and instead focuses more on snowfall and general coldness, which might actually make you less miserable if you’re the sort of person who is perfectly okay with not having seen the ground in a month and a half.
Bousted hopes that with time, the index might be used to find trends in large scale climate changes (because guess what, dummies? Colder temperatures do not mean that global warming isn’t real) and track the economic impacts of drastic seasonal changes. Of course, we’re going to keep using our index score as an excuse not to come into work or go outside or be awake. We’re so very tired and we miss the sun.
- Okaay, snow is pretty too, we guess
- How much snow does it take to make a snow day?
- It could always be worse, at least — we didn’t get hit by a comet