Present Climate Conditions


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. To quantify the duration of winter, one point is tallied for every day with a snow depth of 12 inches or greater.

All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport.

As of March 15, 2017 the WMI for the 2016-17 winter is at 49 points: 23 points for cold, 26 points for snow. This is enough for this winter to be in the "mild" category. Six more points are needed for this winter to be categorized as "moderate."

February 2017 is poised to have no Winter Misery Index points. The only other time there has been no WMI points in February was 1964. There's been only .3 (three tenths) of an inch of snow for February 2017 and if no more snow falls by the end of the month, this would tie the least snowiest February on record. February 1894 also had only .3 (three tenths) of an inch of snow. There has also been no minimum temperature of zero or colder in February 2017 as well.

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: March 15, 2017
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu