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The Final Cities in the WxChallenge

                                     Tucson, AZ, Atlantic City, NJ & Rapid City, SD

by Philip Lutzak - April 2007



Figure 1a. Saguaro cacti at the Saguaro West National Park at Tucson, AZ, February, 2005. Courtesy LPBA.


Figure 1b. Absecon Light at Atlantic City, NJ, March 1999, looking east at the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy Tom McNally.


Figure 1c. Rapid City, SD after the blizzard of March 1998. March is their snowiest month. Courtesy NWS Rapid City.


INTRODUCTION In this second and final report on my weather forecasting progress for the National Collegiate Forecasting Contest, or WxChallenge, I'd like to update you on how I did at these three cities, and tell you how it all ended. In keeping with my last update on the contest, I included Figures 1a, 1b and 1c above to show a picture of our 3 contest cities during the time of year we forecasted for them. Spring obviously comes early for Tucson, in Figure 1a, with average highs by the end of February around 71F. They hit 87F during the two weeks we forecasted for them, averaging in the low seventies during the day, with generally clear skies, living up to their reputation for the sunny, dry, mild winters of a subtropical desert climate. Atlantic City, in Figure 1b, has a Spring known only too well by those who live in the northeast and mid Atlantic: completely "unpredictable", with a wide, and wild, range of temperatures and precipitation, in no small part due to their proximity to the still-cold Atlantic Ocean. During our forecasting time for them, they went from a high of 78 to a low of 30F in one day. In addition, they also experienced a powerful coastal low, or nor'easter, with record-setting, flooding rains and gale force winds. I will cover that particular storm later in this report. Finally, Rapid City (Figure 1c) knows plenty about wild Spring weather. March and April are their windiest months, and March is their snowiest. They experienced winds of 30 mph along with a high temperature of 65F (14 degrees above normal) on the first day we forecast for them, followed by snow, temperatures in the 30's and 46 mph winds two days later. On our last forecast day for them, they set a record low of 6F, smashing their old record of 15F.

  As I did in my last report, I will give a quick overview of my performance at each of these three cities, and then examine a case where I didn't do very well in a forecast there, in order to show you the difficulties I encountered and what lessons I learned from them. 

  My last section contains my reflections on forecasting for the contest over these last six weeks, with an emphasis on what I've learned, how I've applied it to my forecasting skills, and what I still need to change as I go on in my forecasting career.


  In my previous reports I reviewed the climatology of San Antonio and International Falls. In this report I'll share an overview of the climatology of these three challenging contest cities. Let's start off with Tucson, Arizona.



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