Saturday, March 15, 2014

Winter Misery Index: Incomplete

You may have heard of the economic misery index. But there is also a winter misery index, developed by state climatologist Pete Boulay, showing that this has been our worst winter in 30 years.

Heck, we knew that.

However, I think his index needs a bit of refining. While it measures cold highs and lows, both snowfalls and days where the ground is covered by more than 11" of snow, as just some of the things it awards points for, true winter misery is more subtle than that.  Some love the cold for freezing lakes, enabling them to drive out to their favorite fishing spot. Some folks love snow for the recreation, so the index to be a measure of inconvenience/hazard rather than simple numbers. Here are my suggestions for modifying the index. You will note that some things affect the individual, not the whole. But that's what misery is really about, isn't it?

How many days were schools closed due to cold or snow? Double points if any needed to be made up by extra days in the school calender. Triple points of it caused a parent to lose work.
How many days of work did you lose due to winter conditions?
How many rush hours were you stuck in traffic?
How many times did it snow while the temperatures were too cold for salt to clear the road?
How many days were roads and sidewalks covered by ice, making both walking and driving treacherous?
How many snowfalls were on top of ice, hiding it and making it impossible to tell where to put your feet safely?
How many times did you fall?
How many accidents were there system-wide per rush hour?
How many injuries and fatalities were caused by driving on snow and/or ice?
How many days were snowbanks at corners too tall to see over without driving halfway out into cross traffic?
How many days was street parking reduced a lane due to narrowing streets by piles of snow with nowhere else to go?
How many times was your car towed to the impound lot due to parking restrictions?
If you are a business owner, how many days did loss of parking spaces due to snow piles result in loss of income?
How many fires and carbon monoxide poisonings were caused by faulty or supplemental heating in homes and apartments? Add points per fatality.
How many roofs were caved in by snow?
How many days did roof "Ice Dams" make the news headlines?
How many days were there widespread power outages caused by icy tree limbs or ice-caused accidents taking out power lines?
How many hospital admissions for frostbite and shoveling-related heart attacks? Add points for deaths and amputations.
How many people froze to death outside? Make it ten points for children. Add a point for each day since a disappearance it took for a body to be found due to snow cover.
How many days were the mobility-impaired kept housebound?
How many miles of roads/streets were left with more than 100 potholes? Two points for each rim ruined, 5 for each accident caused, 10 for a fatality, double for any happening before Feb. 15.

I'm sure I could go on, but frankly, it's Saturday morning, I'm cozy sitting in my jammies with my feet up and under a very warm blanket, and I don't absolutely have to go anywhere this whole weekend. I'm just not feeling miserable enough to continue.

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