Snow, rain, freezing temperatures, limited daylight and wind — Alaska has some pretty rough winters. But who has it worst? (Mobile users download infographic here)
Fairbanks and Fort Yukon can claim bone-chilling cold. Barrow can claim long days of darkness and the freezing Arctic Ocean shore. Valdez gets buried by snow. Juneau has the wet chill of rain and snow.
In January 2013, a group of Midwest climatologists presented a way to objectively answer the question of who has it worst.
Called the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, it scores locations on a system that awards them points for low temperatures, snowfall and snow depth. The more points, the more severe the winter.
Using this system, a city can compare past winters and cities can compare their winters with each other.
Anchorage climatologist Brian Brettschneider has turned this system into a remarkable map.
Averaging winters from 1980 to 2014 shows Anchorage, which has a relatively mild winter by Alaska standards, stacks up with the most severe winter in the Lower 48, that found in Duluth, Minnesota.
Juneau averages winters as severe as those found in Denver. Ketchikan, with the mildest winter in Alaska, is better off than Baltimore.
The formula isn’t perfect — it doesn’t account for wind, and so it rates the Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula less severely than it should — and it doesn’t account for hours of daylight.
That said, it’s the best tool yet devised for boasting that you’re from Alaska, home to the toughest winters in the United States.