Weather Forecasting for Decision Makers

January 17, 2017
TR 10:00-11:15
METR 4803.002


National Weather Center, Room 5930, 120 David L. Boren Blvd, Norman, OK 73072   View map


Spring 2017

Time: Tuesday and Thursday 10:00-11:15
Room: NWC 5930
Instructor: Kloesel

Spring 2017 METR 4803: Applications of Weather Forecasting (3 Credits)
Subtitle: Weather Forecasting in Support of Critical Decision Making.
TR 10:00-11:15, NWC 5600
Instructor: Dr. Kevin Kloesel (
Office: NWC 2900 (Oklahoma Climate Survey suite)
Office Hours: TBD (Feel free to come in if my door is open)
Text: You will read stuff until your eyes hurt!
Course Overview:
Have you ever wondered why OU decided to delay opening instead of complete closure
in the face of ice and snow? This course will put you on the hot seat by exposing you to
various types of weather forecasts, and how those weather forecasts are created,
customized, and then utilized by those responsible for the life and safety of others. You
will be immersed into the world of decision makers who each deal with weather as but
one factor in a complex web of information streams and external demands that pit the
protection of life and property against profit and enjoyment/entertainment. How much
risk are you willing to take on? What are the consequences if you are wrong? Are there
available communication strategies to get your message across more effectively and
efficiently? These important questions will be explored from the perspective of the
meteorologists that issue the weather forecasts and the administrators, state officials,
emergency managers, and other decision makers that use these forecasts to protect
schools, athletic events, concert venues, transportation infrastructure and more.
Assignments and Graded Work:
Exams (0%): There will be no tests, but you will be tested.
Quizzes (0%): You can be quizzical, but that won’t be part of your grade.
The Notebook (20%): You will be keeping an individual diary. The diary details will be
explained in class, and the notebook will be turned in at periodic and unannounced times
during the semester. Keep up!
The Writer’s Block (20%): There will be numerous writing assignments. These will
range from an explanatory paragraph written in class, to more extensive, outside class, 1-
3 page papers summarizing topics to be determined.
Individual Activities (30%): These are lab activities that will be accomplished on your
Group Activities (10%): These are lab activities that will be accomplished in groups,
making it impossible to grade them accurately, but I will do the best I can.
Poster (20%): This is a semester project that will be developed throughout the spring. I
will show you an example, and more details will be forthcoming.
The standard OU grading policy will apply (90+ = A; 80+ = B, etc.) I reserve the right to
lower numerical thresholds for a given letter grade.
Make-up Policy:
Extensions on work might be granted on a case-by-case basis. It is your responsibility to
notify me if you cannot turn in an assignment by the given deadline.
Academic Honesty:
Homework and programming assignments are important for your understanding of the
material. Occasional help from a classmate is fine but be sure that you actually
understand the material. It will help tremendously for you to make an appointment to
visit if you are having trouble understanding the material. Realize that simply copying a
homework assignment from any source is considered cheating and will definitely not help
your understanding. If caught, such activity could result in a failing grade in the course
and possible disciplinary action. All students are expected to be familiar with and abide
by the OU Academic Misconduct Code. Information on this code and other student
policies is located at
Religious Holidays:
It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious
observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and
additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays.
Reasonable Accommodation Policy:
The University of Oklahoma is committed to providing reasonable accommodation for all
students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who require accommodations in this
course are requested to speak with me as early in the semester as possible. Students with
disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services prior to receiving
accommodations in this course. The Office of Disability Services is located in Goddard
Health Center, Suite 166, phone 405/325-3852 or fax only 405/325-4173.
Should imminent or ongoing hazardous weather create an environment that is distracting
or unsafe, class will be dismissed. Class will resume when the instructor determines that a
productive environment for learning can be secured. If the weather threat requires
sheltering in a best available refuge, the class will proceed in an orderly fashion to the
interior of the NWC, and proceed down the interior stairs to NWC 1313 (the David L
Boren Auditorium) and shelter until the danger has passed.
Tentative Outline of Class Topics and Activities
I . Weather Forecasts
a. What is a weather forecast? (types of available forecasts)
b. Role of NOAA National Centers and National Weather Service Forecast Offices
c. Role of Private Sector (including forecast shops and broadcasters)
d. The Forecast Process and how forecasts are made
e. The basics of deterministic, ensembles, and probability forecasting
f. Man vs Machine
g. Basic forecast metrics
h. Integrating the social sciences and how forecasts are interpreted and used by clients.
II. Select Weather Forecast Clients (this is NOT a comprehensive listing!)
a. Emergency Management
b. Energy Industry
c. Agriculture
d. Transportation (ground and aviation)
e. Venues
f. Sports
g. Immersion therapy (Campus!)
III. Becoming a Weather Ready Nation
a. Warn on Forecast
b. Threat triggers and Decision matrices
Individual Activities
a. How to create a digestible forecast
b. How to customize a forecast to incorporate and communicate user needs
c. How to forecast under external constraints and with resource contention
d. Shadowing a forecast office (how things really work)
e. State Emergency Operations Center trip and Hazard Mitigation Planning
f. Buying power on the spot market
g. Weather derivatives and risk
h. Forecasting to make a living (market analysis and business plans)
Group Activities
a. The coordinated warning process – severe weather.
b. Forecasting for a football game on a college campus
c. Forecasting for the possibility of school closure in winter
d. Forecasting for an outdoor concert complete with pyrotechnics
e. Forecasting for a significant ice storm with power outages
f. Closing roads and bridges before they flood
g. Forecasting for an Olympics event