Stats Made Easy

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Which of these is the winter weather outlier?

International (aka “Frostbite”) Falls reported a record low of 42 below Fahrenheit the other day. Would statisticians deem this an outlier? I think not – just another notch on the low end of the normal curve of temperature in this northern Minnesota city.

On the other hand, this morning I came across this pictured vehicle from Florida. That is much more unusual in the dead of Minnesota winter. You may not resolve the license plate in the photo, but here are a couple of clues that the driver is not a Minnesotan:
-- They did not brush off the snow from the rear window – only ran the wipers.
-- They are tailgating on the exit ramp to Interstate 694 on a day of extreme cold when black ice* makes the roads extremely slippery.

Given these unsafe practices, I predict that this outlying Floridian car will soon be off the roads and we will be back to our normal distribution of Minnesotan and Wisconsites (don't get me going on them!).

PS. Here’s a little poem that just came through in an email circulating around these parts (author unknown):

The weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Minnesota
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!

*If you do not know about black ice, consider yourself fortunate. It’s a phenomenon that occurs only in below-zero cold: The water resulting from the internal combustion engine freezes when the exhaust hits the road. This ice cannot be seen – hence the designation of it being “black.”


  • At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Take a look at the distribution of lows.


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