METEO 416: Advanced Forecasting Practicum

Instructor.Fred Gadomski, Mon & Wed, 1:25-3:20 pm, 607 Walker

 Meteorology 416:  Advanced Forecasting Practicum 
Spring  2017 

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, 863-4229,

Office Hours. By appointment

When/Where. Mon & Wed 1:25-3:20 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 multiple 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 expected 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 9:55 am. At the instructor’s discretion, there will be a 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 7:30 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 9:55 am, 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 – 5 or 6 forecasting days
    • (5%)    Contest 1b: Threat Forecasts – 6 or 7 forecasting days 
    • (15%) Contest 2a: Probabilistic Zone Forecasts – 6 forecasting days
    • (10%)  Contest 2b:  Threat Forecasts – 7 forecasting days 
    • (10%)  Medium- Range Weather Hazard Forecasts – 11 forecasting days 
  • In-Class Map Discussions, General Participation:  (10%)

All students should develop a daily habit of remaining “in touch” with current Northern Hemisphere weather patterns and model trends. Students are expected 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 responsible for participating in 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 powerpoint presentation should include verifications (with sources) and  a thorough analysis of the synoptic/mesoscale features involved  (using at least four “tools” – satellite, radar, surface maps, etc) along with any other relevant charts, guidance and documents.  Each team will lead two of these post-mortems. Students that are not part of the verification team are expected to participate through critical evaluation of the verification team’s presentation. 

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, on-line articles and journal papers will supplement the in-class discussions. 

Module/Paper/Lecture Topics (Tentative Schedule)

Week of / Topic 

  • Jan   9 Overview /Course Mechanics/ZONEcast - Modules 1
  • Jan 18 No Monday/Quiz/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 2
  • Jan 23 No class Monday (AMS) /THREATcast - Modules 3
  • Jan 30 Quiz/ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 4
  • Feb 6 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 5
  • Feb 13 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 6
  • Feb 20 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 7
  • Feb 27 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 8
  • Spring Break
  • Mar 13 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 9
  • Mar 20 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 10
  • Mar 27 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 11
  • Apr 3 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 12
  • Apr 10 Quiz, ZONEcast/MRcast/THREATcast - Modules 13
  • Apr 17 Quiz, ZONEcast/THREATcast - Modules 14
  • Apr 24 Quiz, THREATcast 

Academic integrity  This course follows the College of EMS academic integrity policy:

Students with disabilities The Office for Disability Services (ODS) Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus: For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site: 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: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter 

Prerequisites. 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 and sub-seasonal  global numerical model forecasts by identifying the potential important weather anomalies and 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