METEO 201 Introduction to Weather Analysis

Introduction to Weather Analysis INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jon M. Nese CLASS TIME/PLACE: Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 112 Walker Lab: Section 1, Friday 12:20-2:15 PM, 607 Walker Section 2, Friday 8:00-9:55 AM, 607 Walker ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS Instructor: Peter R. Bannon Lectures: Mon., Wed. & Fri. 12:20-1:10 p.m. 105 Walker BuildingTeaching Assistant: Scott Loeffler

Meteorology 201

Introduction to Weather Analysis, Fall Semester 2015 

COURSE DESCRIPTION.  An introduction to the atmosphere, the forces that govern its motion, and the collection, display, and application of weather observations and numerical weather prediction models.

CLASS TIME/PLACE: Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 112 Walker

Section 1, Friday, 12:20-2:15 PM, 607 Walker

Section 2, Friday, 8:00-9:55 AM, 607 Walker

INSTRUCTOR: , 518 Walker Building, 863-4076, Twitter:  @jmnese

OFFICE HOURS: Mon 2:30-3:30PM, Tue 11AM-12PM, Thu 2:30-3:30PM, and by appointment 

Sect 1:  , OH M 4-5PM, W 1-2PM, 606B Walker 
Sect 2:  , OH T 3-4PM, F 1030-1130AM, 406 Walker 


  1. Students can demonstrate familiarity with key atmospheric variables and structures, the types of weather data available, the manner by which these data are collected, and some of the ways that these data are displayed, analyzed, and used.
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with the options within the BS degree for Meteorology. 


  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to plot, analyze, and interpret conventional maps of surface and upper-air data as well as soundings on a thermodynamic diagram.
  2. Students can demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of the basics by which atmospheric observations are taken, both in-situ and remotely.
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of synoptic-scale and tropical weather systems as well as of the general circulation of the atmosphere.
  4. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental forces that drive atmospheric motions both in the horizontal and vertical.
  5. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the basics underlying numerical weather prediction.

TEXT: Required: Grenci, L. and J. Nese, 2010: A World of Weather, Fifth Edition Purchase new directly from publisher:

Print ISBN: 978-0-7575-9426-18 (Caution: Used copies may have missing pages) 

Though I strongly believe it is essential for every student majoring in meteorology to own a quality introductory-level meteorology textbook (and this text fits that description), and though I will constantly reference the book (and its figures) in class and for the homeworks and give reading assignments, there may be reasons why you do not want to purchase the book. Therefore, a copy of the book is on reserve at the EMS Library in Deike Building.  You can check the book out for two hours at a time.  But beware – NOT having a copy of the book to call your own will make it very challenging to succeed in this course. 

WEB    Many class materials will be posted on ANGEL. I recommend that you check ANGEL before each class.  Printing the materials placed there may help your note-taking.  Also, you should bookmark the following web sites which will be used extensively in class: (my “home page” for weather information)  (tools for instruction) (the Penn State Meteorology “ewall”) 

ASSESSMENT TOOLS   There will be two EVENING exams (exact times to be announced): Thursday October 1 and Thursday November 5.  The final exam (during finals week) will be scheduled by the University. Conflict/make-up exams will be given for legitimate reasons. Missing an exam is a serious matter and must be discussed with me beforehand. 

There will be a quiz each Friday in lab except the weeks of the midterms and the last week of classes (a total of 12 quizzes). There are no make-up quizzes, but I will drop your two lowest quiz grades (so if you have to miss a quiz or 2, it’s not a problem).  Most weeks, a problem set will be assigned in lab on Friday and will be due in class the following Wednesday. Because you are given so much time to complete the problem sets, there will be a 25% penalty for any problem set turned in late, 50% deduction for more than six hours late, and more than 24 hours late means no credit at all.  Neatness, organization, spelling and grammatical structure are important !!  You may discuss the problem sets with other students, but the work you turn in must be uniquely your own (see integrity policy below).

The final component of your course grade will be a semester-long group project (introduced during Week 1) that includes a presentation during the last week of class. 

GRADING: The weighting of the components of your course grade is as follows:

Component / Percent of Final Grade 

  • Exam 1- 17%
  • Exam 2 - 17%
  • Final Exam - 25%
  • Quizzes - 10%
  • Problem Sets - 25%
  • Group project - 6% 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY  The academic integrity policy of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, described at, governs this course.  Here’s a brief interpretation of that policy as it applies specifically to this course:  

You may never copy answers from another person and present them as your own.  This applies to quizzes, exams, and problem sets.  You are allowed to discuss problem sets with other students, but the work you turn in must be your own, in your own words.  Suspicion of copying on problem sets will result in a 50% reduction for the first offense, and an F for the course on the second offense.  Cheating on exams or quizzes will result in an immediate F for the course. 

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES   Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs.  In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations for a disability, you must contact the disability services office, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation (for guidelines, see  Check the Office for Disability Services (ODS) web site  to see who you should contact at University Park.  If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, the disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter.  Please share this letter with me and discuss the accommodations with me early in the semester. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

ATTENDANCE POLICY   This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance policy given at  You should read it.  Basically, I assume that you will be in class every day and you are responsible for everything done in your absence – but I understand if you have to miss for good reasons, and I will endeavor to assist you to make up any missed work.  If you anticipate a lengthy absence from class, you should see me immediately.

CANCELLATIONS OR DELAYS   Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News: and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

COURSE SCHEDULE AND READINGS    Below is a course outline and approximate schedule, along with suggested readings from the text.  I will give required readings in each class each week that are a subset of what is below – this list of suggested readings is carefully chosen to reinforce what we do in class and to give you additional insights into applications.  I strongly recommend that you at least skim these readings as we cover the topics.  At the beginning of each week, I will show a slide in class (and post to ANGEL) describing that week’s material. 

Weeks / Topics / Readings

1-4 Atmospheric Structure & Analysis / 1-12

    • Key variables 83-95, 125-151, 213-220
    • Observing systems 23-25
    • Station models, Meteograms 25-31
    • Isoplething 17-23 

5-6 Radiation Basics and Remote Sensing

    •  Fundamentals of radiation 51-72
    • Satellite Imagery 169-183
    • Radar Imagery 184-194 

7-9 Large-scale Features

    • General Circulation 417-439
    • Forces, pressure systems 87-92, 213-237
    • Air masses and fronts 95-100, 238-240 

9-12 Upper-air Analysis

    • Constant pressure surfaces 259-277
    • Mid-latitude jet stream 278-284
    • Surface / upper-air connection 526-533, 562-564 

12-14 Stability and Skew-T Log P diagrams

  • Atmospheric stability 309-326, 330-343
  • Skew-T Log-P basics handouts
  • Thunderstorms 360-396 

15 Additional Topics

    • ENSO 439-447
    • Climate Change 725-742

Wks 1-15 Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) Pay attention in labs!