News

Current News

5/3/11 - Weather forecasting team captures third national award

A third consecutive win in a forecasting competition is another feather in the cap for Mississippi State's nationally recognized meteorology program.

The nine-person team placed first in the 2010-11 Wx Challenge, a 20-week period of weather predictions. By virtue of the achievement, the land-grant institution remains home to "the top weather forecasters in North America."

More than 1,800 forecasters from some 70 colleges, universities and research institutions, participated. Specifically, they were asked to forecast the maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation, and maximum wind speeds for select U.S. cities during a 10-week period each semester. (See www.wxchallenge.com/.)

Darrel W. Schmitz, MSU geosciences department head, compared the achievement to a sports team winning a national championship for three consecutive years--except the competition involves the entire North American continent.

"The word 'phenomenal' comes to mind," he said.

Meteorology is one of the geosciences department's programs. (See www.geosciences.msstate.edu/.)

This year, MSU topped Pennsylvania State University for top honors. For both of the two previous years, the Magnolia State group bested the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Douglas L. "Doug" Gillham, instructor of meteorology and climatology, said this year's forecasting competition differed from previous years because many days had weather substantially different from models and official public forecasts.

"This provided numerous teachable moments that allowed us to better prepare our students to be successful meteorologists after graduation," said Gillham, who placed first in the competition's faculty competition.

Winning the competition for three consecutive years highlights "how hard our faculty work to train our students and how hard they work to be successful meteorologists," he observed.

Other MSU faculty colleagues placing high in the competition included departmental lecturers Michael Carter and Gregory J. "Greg" Nordstrom, who finished second and third, respectively.

The six MSU students--and their individual honors--included (by city):

BLAINE, Minn.--Master's degree student Jason J. Sydejko, third in the graduate division.

BRANDON--Senior Alexandra E. "Alex" St. Pe, second in the undergraduate student division.

MEMPHIS, Tenn.--Senior Jeremy D. DeMoss, first in the undergraduate division.

MT. VERNON, Ky.--Master's degree student Emily P. McKinney, eighth in the graduate division.

PONTOTOC--Senior William R. Simmons, fourth in the undergraduate division.

ROANOKE, Va.--Master's degree student David Wolter, fourth in the graduate division.

ROBBIE S. WARD | University Relations

All Current News