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Detroit tops winter ‘misery index’

DETROIT — A new winter misery index confirms what many Americans in the Midwest and East know in their all-too-chilled bones: This has been one of the harshest winters of our lifetimes.

And nowhere has been hit harder, relatively, than Detroit.

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Detroit is slogging through the most extreme winter it has had since Harry Truman was president, according to an index created by a National Weather Service meteorologist, Barbara Mayes Boustead.

The index is based on cold temperatures and snowfall. And so far Detroit has had more than 6½ feet of snow and 100 days when the thermometer plunged below the freezing mark. Of two dozen cities studied, Detroit alone is in the middle of its harshest winter since 1950.

Boustead uses daily high and low temperatures and daily and accumulated snowfall to come up with a winter index. Officially, it is called the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index.

‘‘I personally would call this a misery index,’’ said Boustead.

Portland, Maine, was the only city in New England to rank as ‘‘severe,’’ one notch below ‘‘extreme.’’

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