Here’s proof weather wasn’t as bad as it seemed

Tom West, West Words
Tom West, West Words

People have been complaining about the weather a lot lately, most of them with icicles hanging from their nose.

However, West’s Winter Misery Index (WWMI) says those complaints are out of line. Just because you can’t see the barn from the house or your auto sounds like a hog in distress doesn’t mean this is an extraordinary winter.

The WWMI says that in the 63 winters since 1950-51, 16 winters to date have been worse.

The WWMI takes the combined average daily highs and daily lows for each month, November through March, and then subtracts the average monthly snow fall in inches. Cold and snow are negatives..

Minnesota weather can change quickly, and the fact is that even in the last few weeks we’ve had some highs in the 30s above to counter the lows in the minus 20s.

As bad as January seems, if the month had ended on Jan. 15, it would have only been the 41st worse since 1951.

December was the month worth complaining about. It was the third worst. November 2013 came in at 31st worst.

The three month span from November through January was worthy of complaints, but not extraordinary. The worst such span in the past 63 years, old-timers will remember, was 1996-97.

In fact, the mid-90s had three of the five worst November-January spans. Others in the worst five were 1968-69, 1993-94, 1995-96 and 1983-84.

What made 1996-97 so awful was how long the bad weather stayed around. In the history of the WWMI, 1996-97 had the fifth worst November, eighth worst December and the second worst January.

What makes 2013-14 seem so awful is that five of the previous 12 November-January spans were the nicest on record. In fact, the all-time nicest span was just two years ago, 2011-12.

Even last year was better, with the 29th nicest span.

As bad as the so-called “polar vortex” was, it is amazing how quickly we Minnesotans adapt to it. The day after the worst of the cold snap ended, the sun was shining as I went outside to go to lunch. I thought, this doesn’t seem too bad. Then I started my car and checked the thermometer. It said 3 below.

It suggests that my personal antifreeze may have been a pint low to think that 3 below constitutes “not bad” weather.


The Minnesota Vikings have hired a new coach, Mike Zimmer. One of the local TV stations introduced him to the Northland by showing a profanity-laced tirade, in which every other word was “bleep.” That probably explains why Zimmer wasn’t named a head coach until age 57, relatively old in his line of work.

After the “Love Boat” scandal a decade ago, the Wilf brothers promised to bring only upstanding individuals to the Twin Cities to play for the Vikings. That has proven somewhat more difficult than anticipated, and the number of DWIs among the Purple seems to be continuing apace.

Now we have a new coach who seems to be passionate about the job, but from whom you may want to keep your kids out of earshot.

Oh well, the sad truth is that if Zimmer wins, nobody will care what he says, and, if he loses, many Viking fans will launch into a stream of profanity of their own.

As nice a person as Zimmer’s predecessor, Leslie Frazier, seems to be, the fact was that the Minnesota Gophers were better coached than the Vikings last year. Don’t misunderstand. There is no comparison talent-wise between the two teams. But when it came to making mental errors, getting penalized at critical moments or appearing disorganized in the closing minutes, the Vikings were inferior to the less polished Gophers in executing what they were trying to do.

A change needed to be made.  If this one doesn’t work, however, maybe heads should start to roll a little higher up the chain of command.

Tom West is the editor and general manager of the Record. Reach him at [email protected] or(320)616-1932.