arcana imperii :: the book of j


how many snowflakes fall in a snowstorm?

it's been snowing in the nation's capital and while most transients, along with VA and MD residents, complain about the cold, the wind, the slippery surfaces yet don't dress properly, insist on driving, and as if they were in suburbia in the middle of august (ugh!), others dress up warmly, take walks and enjoy the magic of gas light reflected, the ethereal landscape of our residential neighbourhoods and the marble-clad federal city while tossing back a few hot toddys and enjoying that special something unique to a snow day away from office and school. some even get to ponder just how many snowflakes fall in a snowstorm...

and along with sam and his archive we can have a guess... he writes:

«guessing massive numbers like the number of flakes in a snowstorm, the number of grains of sand in the world, the number of blades of grass and the like is all about approximation. so let's dive right in here and make loads of wild guesses in the hope of getting an answer that nobody would dare call incorrect. sound okay?

okay, let's assume for the sake of argument that we're dealing with a storm lasting about five hours, and that it's about the size a largish city. let's go with my home town of nottingham, which my atlas tells me is very approximately 6.4 miles square (it's about the same size as one of the big squares). i like metric measurements, so that's 10.3km squared so call it 100 square kilometres.
[dc is 68 square miles, 177 square kilometres]. we'll also assume the storm is reasonably light, so about ten snowflakes landing per second per square metre of ground. dunno how much snow you get in your many and various countries.

five hours is 5 x 60 x 60 = 18,000 seconds. i'm feeling generous, make that 20,000 seconds per storm.
100 square kilometres is 100 x 1000 x 1000 = 100,000,000 square metres.

10 snowflakes per second per square metre multiplied by 100,000,000 square metres multiplied by 20,000 seconds per snowstorm EQUALS 20,000,000,000,000 snowflakes per snowstorm.

twenty trillion. i dunno about you, but that sounds kinda low to me, but the answer is of course give or take three orders of magnitude, or maybe more. feel free to correct me if you have the faintest clue what you're doing.»

how about that?! kris, rt, gp, bos j, anything you'd like to add, mates?!