Weather Blog

Spring was a mess, but how about that winter?

Spring was a mess, but how about that winter?
Photo: Ken Sjodin

With all the publicity spring has been getting for rewriting the record books for gloomy weather, here is a little reminder that perhaps it was payback for what turned out to be a fairly tame winter.

David Obelcz has a complex formula he uses to calculate how a winter (and summer) rates to come up with the Winter Misery Index.

"The Winter Misery Index takes into account the high and low temperature, rainfall, snowfall, and measurable snow on the ground," he said. "A score is generated based on those five factors, the day of the week and the month. The period is scored from December 1st to March 31st. The higher the score the better our winter."

So what did he find?

"We had one of our nicest winter's in Seattle history. With a Winter Misery Index Score of 1145.41, Seattle had its tenth nicest winter since weather records have been kept at Sea-Tac Airport," he said.

He says outside of our record setting cold snap in December our winter was relatively warm.

"The only thing that held us back from possibly having our best winter (or worst if you love the cold and snow) since 1948 was a soggy March, where we had measurable rain 22 out of 31 days. There were only two days it snowed at Sea-Tac, both only a trace on December 13th and March 8th. December 7th was out coldest daytime high, only getting to 30 degrees, but it was the only day we didn't break the freezing mark. December 12th saw our lowest low, sinking to 16 degrees at the airport, and much colder throughout the region."

You can see the charts below. He says he did some preliminary numbers on his "Summer Satisfaction Index" which starts in June, and as you might expect, we're starting out with a very low score

"Barbecue Index" Wasn't All That Bad, Either

Another favorite weather tracker is the "Barbecue Index" which was created in 2008 by Professors Cliff Mass and Mark Albright over at the UW to give some measurement to the really wet spring we had then as well.

Their measurement is tracking the number of days with temperatures higher than 60 degrees -- the level they say Northwesterners probably feel comfortable being outdoors to barbecue. Their index ran from March 11 (the average date spring-like weather typically begins) to June 10.

This year? Surprise! We've had 42 days in that period at or above 60 degrees, which is right on the median of all years going back to 1894. Compare to 2008 which was the second-worst at 23. Of course, there were a lot of days near 60, and this doesn't account for rain, of which there have been several wet days.

But I'll bet there were many desperate barbecuers that a little rain didn't stop you :)

Winter Misery Index Charts