New scale tells us just how bad this winter really is - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

New scale tells us just how bad this winter really is


People are saying this is the worst winter they've seen in a long time, and there is some science that may actually back that up.

The AWSSI or Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index puts the "badness" or "goodness" of winter in context.  It was developed by National Weather Service meteorologists and climate experts.

The index uses data on daily temperatures and snow fall or precipitation, but AWSSI does not directly account for winds, freezing rain, or mixed precipitation.

Barbara Mayes Boustead with the National Weather Service said they don't have data for South Bend but they do have it for the surrounding major cities of Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis.  Boustead said all those cities are either having their worst or close to the worst winter on record.  The AWSSI records start in 1950.  "There are some pockets of the country where it really is as bad as people think it is," said Boustead, "Places like Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago...they're all having either their most severe winter to date or something in the top three or four of most severe winters to date."

So how does this AWSSI index work?  Boustead said it uses temperature data and snow data to give each day a score.  The colder it is, the higher the score.  And the more snow there is, the higher the score.  Then all the scores for each day are tallied up to give the entire winter a score.

"This will actually take a winter like this and put it into context compared to some other winters," said Boustead.

For Comparisons sake Detroit's score so far this winter is 1,093 and Chicago's is 995.  Average for both these cities is around 600.

Boustead says hearing the facts, helps people handle the harsh winter.  "When I talk to people about how bad their winter has been they almost sound relieved as though it confirms what they've perceived."





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