Math Explains How Much Wine to Buy for a Blizzard

Getty Images / David Silverman

As America’s East coast prepared for winter storm Stella, the massive blizzard that’s about to dump over a foot of snow on the Atlantic states, one TV station provided much-needed survival advice on Monday.

Instead of offering shoveling tips, a meteorologist with local Philadelphia station WPVI tweeted out a map showing how much wine to buy to get through the storm. The map turned out to be somewhat misleading in its recommendations, but a bit of math can help would-be Stella prisoners calculate how much wine they’ll need to stay tipsy through the cold.

It was Chris Somers, WPVI’s meteorologist, who first tweeted (and then deleted) the map, as shown here:

Somers's wine forecast is hardly scientific.

This map shows clear signs that it was made by a total lush when judged against the drunkenness standards outlined by the National Institutes of Health. (Perhaps this is why Somers, when confronted about this map, told The Cut, “This is crazy. Just so everyone knows, this was Photoshopped.”) If every individual from Wilmington north and west to Lancaster and Mount Pocono consumes the amount of wine suggested on this map during the two-day storm, they will probably black out or potentially die during this blizzard, at least according to the official U.S. drinking standards.

The National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction’s idea of “low-risk” daily drinking habits amounts to two glasses on a single day for women, and three glasses for men. Considering that Stella is expected to rage all day Tuesday and Wednesday, any given person needs, at most, only six glasses’ worth of wine: One standard-sized bottle contains five. At most, all you’re going to need is two bottles — that is, if you want to stay in the low-risk zone.

But we’re talking about blizzard boozing.

Exceeding a BAC of 0.2 is when things start to get risky.

Winter storm drinkers will probably want to err on the side of drunkenness. It makes more sense, in this case, to use blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to measure how we can stay safely drunk. A BAC of 0.03 to 0.2 is what you need to keep a good buzz going (that is, feelings of euphoria and excitement); anything higher will progressively cause confusion, stupor, coma, and death.

How much alcohol is required to get you to that level depends on how much you weigh and how long you’re drinking, but a rule of thumb is that the body reaches the legal limit, a BAC of 0.08, after four drinks for women and five drinks for men in the span of two hours.

All you need is to sustain a good buzz.

Using an online BAC calculator will tell you that 150-pound man or woman will end up with a BAC of around 0.05 (fun and under the legal limit of 0.08) by drinking 10 servings of wine over 12 hours, together with 10 glasses of water. The same people could drink 10 servings over 10 hours with 10 glasses of water and wind up with a BAC of about 0.1 (fun and over the legal limit, but you probably won’t die).

Multiplied over two days of drinking sessions lasting 10-12 hours each (hopefully, your roads will be cleared by then), the amount of wine you’ll imbibe amounts to about two bottles per day, or four total. Make it five, just to be safe.

In any case, you won’t wind up as broke as you would if you followed Somers’ guidelines, you won’t be too hung over to shovel, and, importantly, you also won’t be too drunk to have blizzard sex with your blizzard buddy.

Chill AF.

Flickr / Dominic Sagar

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