More Snow for Boston, Says Calculus


There are still 12 days left in February, and since we’ve already logged the snowiest month since record-keeping began in 1872 (45.5 inches of snow…so far), every Bostonian is thinking the same thing: how much more snow will we get?

We can answer that question with math, but we need to rephrase it just a bit. Here’s the version we’ll work with: what’s the probability that Boston will get at least s more inches of snow this month? The answer is the function

For example, to find the probability that we’ll get at least 5 more inches of snow substitute s=5 and calculate e^(-0.079(5)). The answer is about 0.67, or 67%. (Ugh, that’s pretty high!) The graph of P(s) is just as much of a downer:

(Note: the outputs–100, 92, 85, etc.–have been rounded.) Unfortunately, the math predicts a 50/50 chance Boston will get about another 8.6 inches (!), and about a 30% chance we could see at least 15 more inches!!

The only good news I have is that the P(s) function is not exact. Though I did use historical snowfall totals for February (the data I used goes back to 1920), I also fitted a curve to —> Read More Here


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