The Twin Cities Winter Misery Index

Winter Misery Index chart

Were the winters when you were young worse than they are now? You may be able to prove it with the Winter Misery Index.

The Winter Misery Index (WMI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winter when compared with winters of the past. The WMI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder. If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points. The duration of a winter is quantified using the number of days the snow depth is 12 inches or greater.

All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport.

As of January 13, 2017 the WMI for the 2016-17 winter is at 46 points: 22 points for cold, 24 points for snow. This is enough for this winter to be in the "mild" category. Nine more points are needed for this winter to be categorized as "moderate."

The WMI for the winter of 2015-16 finished with 47 points, enough for 2014-15 to be categorized as a "mild" winter. The WMI points for the 2015-2016 winter were 18 for cold and 29 snow: 47 points. The winter of 2016-17 should easily pass last winter in points.

The WMI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the "severe winter" category.  This was the 9th most severe winter on record based on WMI points. The lowest WMI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 WMI points.

Note, this could also be called the "Winter Fun Index" depending on your perspective!

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center offers an objective winter severity index called the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI). The index quantifies relative winter severity for a number locations around the United States.

 

Last modified: January 13, 2017
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu