Introduction to Weather Analysis

Meteorology 201

Introduction to Weather Analysis, Fall Semester 2017 

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.  This course (or Meteo 101) is required for all Meteorology majors. 

Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 112 Walker


  • Section 1, Friday 8:00-9:55 AM, 607 Walker
  • Section 2, Friday 1:25-3:20 PM, 607 Walker 

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

OFFICE HOURS.  Mon 9:00-10:00 AM, Thu 8:00-9:00 AM, and by appt 


  • Hui-Wen Lai, 603 Walker.  OH:  Mon 2-3 PM, Fri 11-12 PM
  • Dandan Wei, 410 Walker.  OH:  Tue 2-3 PM, Wed 2-3 PM  

TEXT. Required: Grenci, L. and J. Nese, 2010: A World of Weather, Fifth Edition

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

I strongly believe that every student majoring in meteorology should own a quality introductory-level meteorology textbook (and this text fits that description), and I will constantly reference the book (and its figures) in this class, but 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 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 Care and Advocacy (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit 

WEB  Many class materials will be posted on Canvas. You should 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 in 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. 

ASSESSMENT TOOLS.  There will be two EVENING exams (exact times to be announced) on Thursday September 28 and Thursday November 2. 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. Also, there will be a quiz each Friday except the weeks of the midterms and the last week of classes, giving a total of 12 quizzes. 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 components of your course grade will be a “Communications” project (that will be described in more detail during the semester) and an Attendance/Participation grade that will determine based on my own observations. 

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

Component / % of Course Grade 

  • Exam 1: 15%
  • Exam 2: 18%
  • Final Exam: 22%
  • Quizzes: 10%
  • Problem Sets: 22.5%
  • Communications Project: 5%
  • Attendance / Participation: 7.5%

Letter grade Average

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

COURSE SCHEDULE AND READINGS. Below is a course outline and schedule, along with suggested readings – this list of 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 – on that slide, I will give required readings each week that are a subset of what’s below. 

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  

All Semester  Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) Pay attention in labs! 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY. This course follows the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences integrity guidelines that can be found here: Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. 

Specifically, as this policy pertains 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. 

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 the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy 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. 

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. 

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

COURSE COPYRIGHT.  All course materials that students receive or have online access to are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.  For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site violates this policy. 

ACCOMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.  Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into its educational programs. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

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. 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. 

REPORTING BIAS-MOTIVATED INCIDENTS.  Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage. 

COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES.  Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park: 814-863-0395

Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400

Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741