From NPR: One Prediction Of Sochi Doom That Hasn't Happened

The passage describes a snowmaker company put in many snow-making-machines and man-made lakes to insure Sochi has enough snow at the course to hold the Winter Olympic games. The following "system" is referred to the snow-making-machine.

You're in the mountains so you play with Mother Nature and you deal with what she's giving you. The system is designed around having extremely marginal conditions, not normal conditions, but extremely marginal conditions.

What does the term "marginal conditions" mean here? Is it a technical term?

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    It means conditions that are on the margin, the margin being that region of the operational envelope that is right on the edge between acceptable and unacceptable. – Jim Feb 7 '14 at 3:34
  • @Jim Thank you. So the sentence The system is designed around having extremely marginal conditions can be interpreted more or less like The system is designed around dealing with bad conditions. Right? I still have a question, does "have" in the sentence mean "deal with"? I don't find a similar definition of the word "have" in the dictionary. – Searene Feb 7 '14 at 6:15
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    @MarkZar I read it as The system is designed around [having extremely marginal conditions], so "have" does not have uncommon meaning here. It's just like saying The system is designed around [what we expected], and what we expected was "having extremely bad whether conditions, etc". --(The bad conditions in the news here refer to "no snow" conditions). – Damkerng T. Feb 7 '14 at 11:18

The phrase 'marginal conditions' here is used to describe the weather as in previous sentence, there is the note of 'Mother Nature'. And it is all about maintaining condition with enough snow for skiing.

As Jim commented, that's the weather condition right on the edge between acceptable and unacceptable.

I could find the meaning of 'marginal weather' in this context.

marginal weather - Weather that is sufficiently adverse to a military operation so as to require the imposition of procedural limitations.

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Marginal conditions are very strange conditions, not normal (gaussian, as most natural phenomena).

That could be much more frequent than normal or much less frequent.
For example snowing every day for a whole year would be marginal.

Marginal conditions are very unlikely to happen and can't be calculated accurately with the standard normal tables.

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