Another 'mild' Minnesota winter for the record books

- It’s been a pretty easy winter hasn’t it?  With the exception of a couple reasonably sized snow storms and 2 brutal but short lived cold snaps, it’s actually been pretty nice… well for Minnesota standards anyway.  And there is an index produced by the Midwest Regional Climate Center that proves it.  Called the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, or AWSSI for short, it is a number based system that can depict a brutal winter from a mild one.  It takes into account high and low temperatures, snowfall (both the amount and the number of days we have to deal with it) as well as accumulated rainfall (indicative of milder temperatures) and snow cover depth and length.  Applying a number to all of those stats gives them a chart that can plot just how mild or wild the winter has been.  The only limitation to this index is it doesn’t account for the wind chill, which we know in the Upper Midwest can be far more brutal than the actual air temperature.  But let’s face it, everything has its flaw. So let’s look at last year as an example.  Not a bad year in Minnesota, but remember how brutal it was in the Northeast?  Yea, well they charted that and here were the results…

According to their results, it was a moderate winter for the metro, meaning above average… I don’t think many of us would argue that.  For Duluth, it was a category above that, calling it mild, which is one of the warmer categories.  But look east… from Chicago to Cleveland, Buffalo, and New York City it was a brutal winter… extreme as they call it with heavy snows and tremendous cold.  Then, unsurprisingly, the Boston and Providence areas experienced their record max year, meaning the most brutal winter recorded on this scale.  So what about Minnesota this year?  Well here is where we currently stand…

Our current index score is 643.  So what does that mean?  Well, look at your color coated categories… if we were to finish this winter with this exact score, then it would be considered a mild winter.  To get to our “average style” winter though, our score needs to get up over 1000.  To earn points we need colder temperatures and more snow.  While we consider it mild right now, we are still earning points every day because it’s still chilly outside.  But for us to get to normal this year, we are going to need some more snow and some sub average temperatures.  We have a much higher likelihood of reaching the moderate category again IF March is near normal both in temperature and snowfall.  Here is where the rest of the country stacks up…

Much of the east has been mild through the winter, with parts of the west in an average or more brutal category mostly because of the amount of snow that has fallen in some areas.  Here’s how the points are tallied…

If you are looking for more information on how this index works, what weather earns points, and what is weighted more heavily, you can check out the Midwest Climate Regions’ website here…

http://mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/research/awssi/indexAwssi.jsp#info

 


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