METEO 416: Advanced Forecasting Practicum

Spring 2014 Instructor: Fred Gadomski 606a Walker 814-863-4229

Meteorology 416:  Advanced Forecasting Practicum

Course Description:  Competitive, simulated, operational, real-time forecasting focusing on the techniques of prediction and issues of verification of both short-term forecasts of mesoscale weather phenomena and medium-range synoptic scale patterns

Instructor: Fred Gadomski
606a Walker
Office Hours: By appointment
When/Where:    Mon & Wed  11:15-1:10 pm, 607 Walker 

Text / Web:

There is no text for this course.  The coursework and forecasts will be managed via Angel and the course web site:  http:/

Course Philosophy:

The goal of this course is to provide multiple learning opportunities in forecasting both short-term mesoscale and medium-range synoptic-scale weather-phenomena, to become familiar with tools that help refine these predictions, and to discover the formidable challenges of verifying mesoscale forecasts.  Because this course will use real-time data which are unlike  the classic lab exercise, it is important to have opportunities to maximize the “learning by doing” experience.  With this in mind, forecasting will include probabilistic  “Zone” forecasts mainly on Mondays  and “Threat” forecasts mainly Wednesdays. On Tuesdays, there will be a continuing homework assignment in the form of a medium-range forecasting contest designed to practice identifying major weather hazards in the 7-21 day time frame.

Class Breakdown:

Most Monday classes will have a quiz and  the verification of the Threat forecast from the previous Wednesday (done by the instructor).  Then, the forecasting part of the class begins with a map discussion where participation is encouraged and is part of the course grade. This will be followed by individual forecast time that may be interrupted briefly for updates on verification criteria. All forecasts must be submitted by 1:10 pm. There will be a 5% penalty for every minute of all late submissions.

Wednesday classes will begin with the post-mortem/verification of the Monday Zone forecast by that week’s verification team. The team must submit the verification to the instructor by 9:30 am that day.  Then, there will be a graded map discussion, a description of the day’s threat forecast assignment, and completion of the day’s threat forecast.  Forecasts must be submitted by 1:10 pm, and there will be a 5% penalty for every minute of all late submissions.

Assessment Tools / Grading.  The grades will be determined in the following manner:

  • Forecasting Contests:  (50%)
    (10%)    Contest 1a:  Probabilistic Zone Forecasts – 6 forecasting days
    (5%)    Contest 1b: Threat Forecasts – 6 forecasting days
    (15%)    Contest 2a:  Probabilistic Zone Forecasts – 7 forecasting days
    (10%)    Contest 2b:  Threat Forecasts – 7 forecasting days 
    (10%)    Medium- Range Weather Hazard Forecasts – 12 forecasting days
  • In-Class Map Discussions, General Participation:  (10%)

    Students will be encouraged to contribute to discussions concerning that day's (or the recent) weather patterns. The instructor will also choose  and question students randomly during the discussions.  

  • Post Mortems (Verifications):  (20%)

    Each week, a Zone “verification team” will be in charge of leading a map discussion (10 minutes) on Monday, then leading a class discussion and verification of the Zone forecast on Wednesday (20-30 minutes).  The Wednesday presentation should include verifications (with sources), a thorough analysis of the mesoscale features involved (using at least four “tools” – satellite, radar, surface maps, etc), and a one-page typed summation of the event along with any relevant charts, guidance and documents.  Each student will participate in two of these post-mortems.

  • Quizzes (COMET Modules, Journal Articles):  (20%)
    You will complete several on-line modules, read several technical papers and will be quizzed on most Mondays to assess your understanding of the material.

Lectures and Modules:

This is not a formal lecture course. Real-time discussions of the weather will form the basis for exploring topics.  COMET modules and journal papers will supplement the in-class discussions.

Module/Paper/Lecture Topics (Tentative Schedule)

Week of/Topic

  • Jan 13 - Course Overview/Contest Mechanics – Modules 1
  • Jan 20 - No Monday/Quiz /MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 2
  • Jan 27 - Quiz/ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 3
  • Feb 3 - ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 4
  • Feb 10 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 5
  • Feb 17 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 6
  • Feb 24 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 7
  • Mar 3 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 8
  • Mar 17 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 9
  • Mar 24 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 10
  • Mar 31 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 11
  • Apr 7 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 12
  • Apr 14 - Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 13
  • Apr 21 - Quiz, ZONEcast/THREATcast - Modules 14
  • Apr 28 - Quiz, ZONEcast - Modules 15

Academic integrity.

This course follows the College of EMS academic integrity policy (see, portion reproduced below).

Disability accommodation

The Office of Disability Services ( requests and maintains disability-related documents; certifies eligibility for services; determines academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services; and develops plans for the provision of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services as mandated under Title II of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  A list of these services is provided at


Meteo 414, Meteo 415

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see: 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 (


Course Objectives:


  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to produce short-term forecasts of a variety of weather variables for atmospheric systems that occur throughout the year

  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to use real-time observations and numerical weather predictions to guide the creation of timely short-term probabilistic and threat weather forecasts at a variety of locations

  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to add value to medium-range global numerical model forecasts by identifying important weather hazards with lead-times of 7-21 days

 Course Outcomes:


  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to lead discussions and verifications of mesoscale forecasts using satellite, radar, and surface observations

  2. Students can demonstrate a knowledge of a variety of forecast verification tools and measures of forecast skill

  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to use knowledge of synoptic climatology, teleconnections and medium-range NWP guidance to identify potential weather hazards with lead-lead times up to three weeks.

  4. Students can demonstrate the ability to create and disseminate a useful real-time mesoscale weather prediction under time constraints, based on current observations and numerical forecasts of the atmosphere

  5. Students can demonstrate discernment among a wide variety of data sources and evaluate their applicability to the forecast problem