The severity of influenza epidemics, which can potentially become a pandemic, has been very difficult to predict. However, past efforts were focusing on gene-by-gene approaches, while it is acknowledged that the whole genome dynamics contribute to the severity of an epidemic. Here, putting this rationale into action, I describe a simple measure of the amount of reassortment that affects influenza at a genomic scale during a particular year. The analysis of 530 complete genomes of the H1N1 subtype, sampled over eleven years, shows that the proposed measure explains 58% of the variance in the prevalence of H1 influenza in the US population. The proposed measure, denoted
, could therefore improve influenza surveillance programs at a minimal cost.