Mesoscale Meteorology

METEO 414: Mesoscale Meteorology, Spring 2020 

Instructor: Dr. Kelly Lombardo
office: 515 Walker Building
phone: 814-865-3241 

Lecture: MWF, 11:15 am - 1:10 pm; Walker Building 126
Office Hours: M, W 1:10pm - 2:10 pm, 515 Walker Building
Teaching Assistant: Scott Loeffler
office hours: Tu, Thurs 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm, 412 Walker Building 

Pre-requisites: METEO 411 (Synoptic Meteorology Laboratory) 

Required Textbook: Mesoscale Meteorology in Midlatitudes by P. Markowski and Y. Richardson. Get it online here (Links to an external site.) or at the University Book Store. 

Assistance with Textbooks: 

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 

Grading: Your final grade will be based on the following: 

  • Three midterm exams (75%); the scores, ranked from best to worst, will contribute 35%, 25%, and 15% to your final grade.
  • Labs (~15) will count for the remaining 25%.
  • Attendance is mandatory. Habitual absences may result in a lowering of your letter 

Exam Policy:

The first two exams will be administered during the semester. The final (third) exam will take place during Finals Week, at the scheduled time and location. Except for illness or emergencies, make-up exams will be conducted only for students who make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam time. 

Lab Assignments:

Students may collaborate on lab assignments, but the final product to be handed in should be your own work. (It is always very obvious who the "leaders" and "followers" are, especially after the first exam.) Approximately one hour will be devoted to lab work in most of the class periods. Lab assignments typically will be due within a few days or up to one week after the initial date of assignment. Due dates will be clearly indicated on each lab assignment. Technical accuracy, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and neatness will be considered in lab grades. 

Course Objectives and Intents: 

The goal of this 4-credit course is to help you gain an understanding of mesoscale phenomena, which I find to be some of the most interesting in all of meteorology. Lectures will focus on the dynamic and physical principles relevant to these scales, which differ significantly from those applicable to synoptic scales. Laboratory exercises will give you practice applying these concepts through problem solving, analysis of fields, and exploration of parameter spaces using numerical models.

Specific course objectives include: 

  • Students can demonstrate skill in the analysis of mesoscale phenomena using surface and upper-air observations of the
  • Students can demonstrate familiarity with the dynamic and physical principles underlying the structure, development, and evolution of mesoscale weather

Specific course outcomes will be: 

  • Students can demonstrate knowledge of how the vertical structure of the atmosphere controls the behavior of convective phenomena and gravity
  • Students can demonstrate knowledge of how various indices and maps derived from atmospheric soundings can reveal the potential for severe convection to occur in the
  • Students can demonstrate knowledge of the role of vorticity in determining the evolution of mesoscale phenomena.
  • Students can demonstrate knowledge of the effects of topography on the structure of mesoscale convective 

Course Topics Include: 

Parcel theory, vorticity, indices derived from soundings and hodographs, static instability, conditional symmetric instability, shear instabilities, boundary layer evolution, low-level jets, lake effect snow, gravity waves, mountain waves, downslope wind storms, cold air damming, radar fundamentals, density currents, drylines, capping inversions, static stability tendency, convection initiation, ordinary thunderstorms, gust fronts, multiple thunderstorms, supercells, tornadoes, mesoscale convective systems, bow echoes, downbursts, hailstorms, flash floods. These are subject to change due to time constraints and class interest. 


Students who do not meet the prerequisites after being informed in writing by the instructor may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period (http://www.psu. edu/dept/oue/aappm/C-5.html (Links to an external site.)). 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 ( (Links to an external site.)). 

Academic Integrity: 

This course follows the procedures/academic-integrity. 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. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Simply put, don’t cheat. This includes but is not limited to copying, plagiarism, self- plagiarism, etc., all of which can result in a 0 on the assignment and/or an F or XF grade in the course.

Ultimately, it negatively affects you: imagine the future disappointment of employers, family, and friends when you turn out to have severe inadequacies in mesoscale meteorology. If you struggle with material, come see me or others for help

Course Copyright:

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, 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 constitutes a violation of this policy. 

Penn State E-mail Accounts: 

All official communications from Penn State 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 (see https://pennstate.service- to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. 

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: 

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( disability-resources). 

In order 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: resources/applying-for-services. 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.


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11: 11-class-attendance.html, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: rules-for-undergraduate-students/44-00-examinations/#44-35. Please also see Illness Verification Policy: resources, and Religious Observance Policy: observances.html. 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:, at least one week prior to the activity.

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:

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 wellbeing. 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 at University Park (CAPS): 814-863-0395 Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses

Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400 Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741 

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect: 

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility. 

For additional information, see: 

  • Penn State Affirmative Action non-discrimination statement
  • Policy AD 85 Sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, Title IX
  • Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related inappropriate Conduct
  • Penn State Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
  • Penn State Values
  • Penn State Principles
  • All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion