This semester, students in Dr. Josh Durkee’s Weather Analysis and Forecasting course participated in a multi-university weather-forecast contest designed to test their analytical skills. Student teams from WKU, University of Georgia and Northern Illinois University were assigned various cities across the country in order to forecast high/low temperatures and total precipitation (to the hundredth -0.00; which is very difficult to do even for an experienced weather forecaster).
The forecast cities provided specific challenges, as each one was chosen based on climatologically active weather periods (e.g., Jacksonville, Fla., during hurricane season; Seattle, Wash., during the middle of November). The forecasting contest was integrated into the class as part of the overall course evaluation, and complemented by weather analysis and forecast discussions at the start of each class meeting. Overall, 59 students participated from the three institutions.
Several WKU students ranked in the top 10 in each of the following categories:
Temperature: Alan Lafferty of Shelbyville, ninth; Danny Gant of Bowling Green, 10th.
Precipitation: Sam Roberts of Corryton, Tenn., first; Astrid Gonzalez of Bowling Green, fourth; Wes Moster of Hebron, seventh.
Two WKU students ranked highly out of the 59 total participants: Sam Roberts was fourth overall and Luke Austin of Henderson was sixth.
According to Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling, “this type of engagement experience not only is fun for students but also it provides them with practical skills in their academic major. Competing against highly motivated students from top-tier meteorology programs from around the region exposes WKU students to the types of challenges they might face as they compete for jobs in their chosen profession. Overall, WKU students acquitted themselves extremely well, especially as this is only the beginning of the second year of the Meteorology program’s existence.”