METEO 201 Introduction to Weather Analysis

CLASS TIME/PLACE: Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 22 DeikeLab: Section 1, Friday 8:00-9:50 AM, 607 Walker, Section 2, Friday 1:25-3:20 PM, 607 Walker

Fall Semester 2016 

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. 


  • Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 22 Deike
  • Lab:  
    • Section 1, Friday 8:00-9:50 AM, 607 Walker
    • Section 2, Friday 1:25-3:20 PM, 607 Walker 

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jon M. Nese, 518 Walker Building, 863-4076;  Twitter: @jmnese 

OFFICE HOURS: Mon 3:00-4:00 PM, Tue 1:00-2:00 PM, Thu 8:00-9:00 AM, and by appointment


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 that every student majoring in meteorology should own a quality introductory-level meteorology textbook (and this text fits that description), and though I will constantly reference the book (and its figures) for specific use in this class, 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. 

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit 

WEB: Many class materials will be posted on Canvas, the university’s course management system. I recommend that you check Canvas before each class. Printing materials that I post there will help your note-taking. Also, you should bookmark the following web sites which will be used extensively in class: 


  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. 


There will be two EVENING exams (exact times to be announced) on Thursday September 29 and Thursday November 3.  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 group project that includes a presentation during the next to last week of class. 

GRADING: The breakdown of your course grade, and expected grading scale are as follows: 

Component / % of Course Grade

  • Exam 1 / 16%
  • Exam 2 / 19%
  • Final Exam / 25%
  • Quizzes / 10%
  • Problem Sets / 25%
  • Group project / 5%

Letter grade / Average  

  • A >= 90%
  • B 80 – 90%
  • C 70 – 80%
  • D 60 – 70%
  • F < 60% 

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. The Office for Disability Services (ODS) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services website ( 

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 based on the documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

ATTENDANCE POLICY: This course abides by the Penn State 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, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews). 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. 

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: ).

MILITARY PERSONNEL: Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

COURSE SCHEDULE AND READINGS: Below is a course outline and schedule, along with suggested readings. I will give required readings each week that are a subset of what’s below – this list of suggested readings is carefully chosen to reinforce what we do in class and to give you additional insights. 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 Canvas) describing that week’s material. 

Weeks / Topics / Readings from Textbook 

1-4 / Atmospheric Structure & Analysis / 1-12

  1. Key variables / 83-95, 125-151, 213-220
  2. Observing systems / 23-25
  3. Station models, Meteograms / 25-31
  4. Isoplething / 17-23

5-6 / Radiation Basics and Remote Sensing

  1. Fundamentals of radiation / 51-72
  2. Satellite Imagery / 169-183
  3. Radar Imagery / 184-194

7-9 / Global scale Features and Forces

  1. General Circulation / 417-439
  2. Forces, pressure systems / 87-92, 213-237
  3. Air masses and fronts / 95-100, 238-240

9-12 / Upper-air Analysis

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

12-14 / Stability and Skew-T Log P diagrams

  1. Atmospheric stability / 309-326, 330-343
  2. Skew-T Log-P basics / handouts
  3. Thunderstorms / 360-396
  4. Tropical cyclones 

15 / Additional Topics

  1. ENSO / 439-447
  2. Climate Change / 725-742

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

PENN STATE E-MAIL ACCOUNTS: All official communications from Penn State (and me) are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.