In this advanced weather forecasting course, our primary focus for the
entire semester is on
The Weather Challenge, a weather forecasting contest for meteorology
students sponsored by the
University of Oklahoma. Students from all over the country get the
chance to compete against each other, individually and in teams, by making daily forecasts for 5
different selected cities in the United States, over a period of
10 weeks. The contest requires us to forecast the high and low
temperature for the day, the maximum wind speed, and the amount of
liquid precipitation that will fall. There
are awards for achievement at the end of the contest, so
there's a lot of motivation to do well here. But the greatest motivation
for most of us is the desire to be really good at what we love to do,
forecasting the weather. In order to get us properly prepared and more
comfortable for the contest, our teachers had our team do a practice week before the real event. We issued forecasts for the
four days of January 23 thru 26, 2007 for the first city in the actual
contest: San Antonio, Texas.
In this report I'll show you how
we set up a forecast, check all of the data, and cull through all of the
information to come up with our final forecast. An essential part of
this is the "back and forth" discussion we have during the decision making process.
I'd also like to show you how
we learn to deal with deadlines and the disappointments
when we don't get it right - I'll be covering some of the problems I ran
into and mistakes I made while trying to build a good forecast. It was a
difficult week, and there were a lot of hard lessons.
One of the most important things
you have to know when forecasting for a particular city is its
climatology, which is basically a description of the typical weather
conditions that occur at a location during its different seasons of the
year. For more about the weather you'd expect
to see in San Antonio, and to help set the scene for our
practice forecasting week, the next chapter delves into
the climate of this stately old city.
Figure 1. Thunderstorm approaching
San Antonio, Texas. Powerful thunderstorms such as these are
possible in any month of the year in San Antonio, due to its
subtropical location and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Copyright by John McManus pbase.com.