METEO 414 Y.Richardson FA14

Mesoscale Meteorology M,W,F: 10:10 a.m.-12:05 p.m. 126 Walker Instructor - Dr. Yvette Richardson

Meteo 414: Mesoscale Meteorology

Fall Semester, 2014


Prof. Yvette Richardson
515 Walker

Office Hours:

M,W: 2-3 p.m. or by appointment 


M,W,F: 10:10 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
126 Walker

Teaching Assistant:

Matthew Flournoy
530 Walker
Office Hours: Th 4-5 p.m..

Required Text:

Mesoscale Meteorology in Midlatitudes   by P. Markowski and Y. Richardson


Meteo 411

Students who do not meet these prerequisites after being informed in writing by the instructor may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period: http:/ . If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct: .


Your final grade will be based on the following:

  • Labs (~15): 30%
  • Participation/Quizzes (possible): 4%
  • 3 Exams (equally weighted): 66%

Exam Policy:

You will be allowed to make up an exam only for very serious reasons that are approved by the instructor prior to the exam.

Other Policies:

Personal use of cell phones and other electronics is not allowed during lecture.

Laboratory assignments must be turned in by their due date. Labs turned in late will receive a discounted grade. Students are expected to attend the lab portion of class and actively work on the current lab unless they have completed it.

This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance Policy 42-27: , Attendance Policy E-11: , and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: . Please also see Illness Verification Policy: , and Religious Observance Policy: . Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes. Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, family emergencies, and regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of Student and Family Services for help: . Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office: , at least one week prior to the activity.

Course Description:

The goal of this course is to help you gain an understanding of mesoscale phenomena, which I find to be some of the most interesting in all of meteorology. Lectures will focus on the dynamic and physical principles relevant to these scales, which differ significantly from those applicable to synoptic scales. Laboratory exercises will give you practice applying these concepts through problem solving, analysis of fields, and exploration of parameter spaces using numerical models.

Topics to be Covered (may change based on time):

Parcel Theory, Vorticity, Indices Derived from Soundings and Hodographs, Static Instability, Conditional Symmetric Instability, Shear Instabilities, Boundary Layer Evolution, Low-level Jets, Lake Effect Snow, Gravity Waves, Mountain Waves, Downslope Windstorms, Cold Air Damming, Radar Fundamentals, Density Currents, Drylines and Capping Inversions, Static Stability Tendency, Convection Initiation, Ordinary Thunderstorms, Gust Fronts, Multicell Thunderstorms, Supercell Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Mesoscale Convective Systems, Downbursts, Bow Echoes, Hailstorms, Flash Floods

Course Objectives :

  1. Students can demonstrate skill in the analysis of mesoscale phenomena using surface and upper-air observations of the atmosphere
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with the dynamic and physical principles underlying the structure, development, and evolution of mesoscale weather systems

 Course Outcomes :

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how the vertical structure of the atmosphere controls the behavior of convective phenomena and gravity waves
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how various indices and maps derived from atmospheric soundings can reveal the potential for severe convection to occur in the atmosphere
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the role of vorticity in determining the evolution of mesoscale phenomena
  4. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the use of atmospheric radar returns to diagnose the structure of precipitating systems and the occurrence of such severe weather as flash flooding, hail, tornadoes, and lake-effect snowstorms
  5. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the effects of topography on the structure of mesoscale systems

 Computer Accounts:

We will use ANGEL ( ), the Penn State course management system, so please become familiar with its functions. Please also be sure that you check your ANGEL email or have it forwarded to your regular email account.

Statement on Academic Integrity (from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences):

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations. Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately. Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others. Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course. Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy: , which this course adopts.

Accommodations for students with disabilities:

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Disability Services (ODS) Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus : . For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site : .

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation : . If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter.

Weather Delays:

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News ( http:/ ) and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter PSUAlert ( Sign up at: ).