Sep 1, 2012

Math Lesson From a Hurricane

According to something called Live Science, Mobile AL tops the list of soggiest cities. Really? Then how do you explain our high water bills from years of having to water our grass? It has to do with statistics. Ah, you knew there'd be math involved, didn't you?

Mobile's weather patten, according to my completely unscientific observation, usually looks something like this: drought, drought, drought, drought, hurricane.

For ease of calculation, let's say that each drought year brings just 30 inches of rain, and the hurricane year dumps 100.  (These are not the actual numbers!)

Mean: add them up and divide by the number of years you're counting.
     30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 100 = 240
     240 / 5 = 48
     Mean = 48

Median: line them up numerically from smallest to largest, and select the one in the center.
    30, 30, 30, 30, 100.
     Median = 30

Mode: the most popular. Which number occurs most frequently? 
     Mode = 30

Mode, when talking about rainfall on a community, is the only statistic that matters to a homeowner. I want to know what to expect. Usually, we're going to have to water our lawn. Once in a while, a hurricane will come along and do it for us. 

Statistics can say anything you want them to. If you want to say that our "average rainfall is 67 inches," you can find the data to back up your claim.

But don't try to sell it to me. I know better. I pay the water bill.

Of what statistics will you be skeptical today?

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