Snow storms on Friday. 70 degrees and sunny on Wednesday. Who could have foreseen this rapid weather turnabout? Well, members of the new atmospheric science concentration at HWS, for one. The budding meteorologists have cast a critical eye on the weather patterns of this winter. Under the guidance of Associate Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird and Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nicholas Metz, the students are participating in the WxChallenge, the North American collegiate weather forecasting competition.
They are among more than 2,000 student forecasters from higher education institutions across the United States and Canada who are currently competing against one another to predict the high and low temperatures, maximum sustained wind speeds, and total precipitation from select locations across the United States for a 10-week period.
“There is no better way for students to learn meteorological concepts than to put them to use themselves,” says Metz, who entered HWS in the competition. “At times it can be a humbling experience, even if you’ve been making forecasts for years. However, through repeated attempts the students improve their forecasting skills – which is important if students plan to pursue any type of job in the field of meteorology.”
“Participating in WxChallenge has really helped me to become more familiar with the online meteorological websites and to improve my ability to forecast,” says Pamela Eck ’15, a geoscience and environmental studies double major.
“We’ve only been forecasting for a month, and my forecasts have improved drastically,” says Augusta Williams ’13, a biology and geoscience double major. “We have gained more knowledge on which sources are the most reliable, and how we can use the models to build our own forecast.”
“My favorite part of the competition is waking up the day after I’ve submitted my forecast and seeing how small, or large, my anomaly is,” says Daniel Budmen ’15, a geoscience and public policy double major. “It is very rewarding when you forecast accurately.”
The competition is an ideal way to implement what has been learned in class, bringing atmospheric concepts to life. “It is always fun to have the bragging rights that you are the best forecaster out of the group at HWS or perhaps one of the best in the country,” says Metz.