The Importance of Pi

As people are celebrating Pi day in many different ways. Accuweather's Dexter Henry takes a look at the day and how 3.14 impacts weather forecasting.

Video Transcript

DEXTER HENRY: Since 1988, March 14th has been known as Pi Day, the day where math's most famous number is celebrated.

PETER WINKLER: The idea is just to celebrate pi, help mathematical outreach, get people interested, get people knowledgeable about pi.

DEXTER HENRY: Pi, or 3.14, is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Dr. Peter Winkler, a visiting professor at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City, says pi plays a very important role in our society.

PETER WINKLER: Pi is really, you know, the one letter symbol of mathematics. And it's a great entry to the public for the world of mathematics.

DEXTER HENRY: Scientists and mathematicians use pi all the time, but pi has also had a great impact in weather forecasting and the field of meteorology.

DAN KOTTLOWSKI: You're allowed to use that value to create or to determine the area of a circle. And so there are many parts of meteorology which do use that function.

BRITTANY BOYER: You see it's going to be sunny. You see it's going to snow. But where does that information come from? Well, we get that from equations like the pi equation that is involved in helping us predict what the weather is going to be.

DEXTER HENRY: Pi is integral in the trajectory of global weather system models. It helps explain why the sky is blue, and even can be used to calculate the volume of water in a raindrop.

DAN KOTTLOWSKI: Most raindrops and most particles of the air are sort of either oval-shaped or round-shaped. And so we use that to help us to create these warnings, which allow us to try to attempt to figure out where these particles of air are going.

DEXTER HENRY: On Pi Day, some places will offer discounts on a different kind of pie. Awareness for the number and equation is growing, and those who use it say it's here to stay.

BRITTANY BOYER: I don't see it going anywhere. It's one of the building blocks. So if anything, I hope that more people will start remembering that equation, and seeing where it's used, and how beneficial it is to fields like meteorology.

DEXTER HENRY: Reporting in New York City for "AccuWeather," I'm Dexter Henry.