Word Problem Wednesday: Sunny with a Chance of Rain

By Mathnasium | September 23, 2020

If you’ve ever watched the Weather Channel or the weather segment of the evening news, you’ve seen meteorologists in action. They are scientists who use mathematical models and knowledge to understand and predict weather and climate. Some meteorologists work on daily weather forecasting, some conduct atmospheric research and some even teach.

This week’s word problems follow meteorologists in the making as they use math to study the weather around them. Read the following problems and choose the one that’s the right skill level for your child. Have them give it a try. And when they feel they’ve found the answer, check their solution against ours on the next page.


Lower Elementary:
Question: Grace has been keeping track of the sunny, cloudy, and rainy days over the past two weeks.  She recorded 4 sunny days, 7 cloudy days, and 3 rainy days.  How many more days were cloudy or rainy than sunny?

Upper Elementary:
Question: After a bad rainstorm Joey checked his rain gauge and read 2 1/4 inches of rain. Joey wants to know how much snow the storm would have brought if it had been cold enough.  If one inch of rain is equivalent to 13 inches of snow, how many inches of snow would be left after the storm?

Middle School:
Question: On the news this morning, Haroula heard the weather person say, “Yesterday morning’s rain totaled 2.4 inches.” She is curious what 2.4 inches of rain really means.  If it rained at a steady rate from 4 am to 12 pm, use the chart below to help Haroula determine the type of rain that fell yesterday.  (Use 1 inch ≈ 25 mm)

Type of RainRate (in mm/hr)
Lightx ≤ 0.5
Moderate0.5 < x ≤ 4.0
Heavy4.0 < x ≤ 8.0
Very Heavyx ≥ 8.0

Algebra and Up:
Question: There is a 40% chance of rain for Saturday and 40% chance of rain on Sunday.  What is the probability it will rain on both Saturday and Sunday?