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                           OUR PRACTICE FORECAST WEEK - SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

                                                 by Philip Lutzak - January 2007

 

 

                                     INTRODUCTION - THE WEATHER CHALLENGE  

 

  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.

 

 

 

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