New index aims to measure the ‘misery’ of each winter season

cold cars
This winter is shaping up to be one of the worst on record, according to a new tool has been created by weather experts to measure the “misery” of each winter season.

The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index is a quantitative scale that labels each winter with a number based on past and current weather conditions.

Steve Hilberg is a senior Climatologist and Meteorologist with the Midwest Regional Climate Center, and is a co-creator of the index.

“What we’re trying to do is characterize the winter season, basically, with a single number that represents the temperature, snowfall, snow depth, length of time the snow is on the ground and the extent of the cold weather,” he said.

Hilberg said the index is being used to compare winters from hundreds of years ago to today.

“We would like to go back and be able to characterize winters of which we have very limited data,” he said. “Obviously, there will be some limitations with that, but that’s the beauty of this index. It doesn’t require a lot of complicated data; it really only requires the maximum temperature of the day, snowfall and snow depth.”

According to the index, Sault Ste. Marie is experiencing one of its top 10 worst winters, and Detroit is suffering from its worst winter on record.

Although the index is not a fully operational product, yet, Hilberg says he expects it to be within the year.