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Ames Meteorology Students Complete Forecast Competition

The meteorology class at Massapequa High School’s Ames Campus recently wrapped up its annual forecast competition. During the 12-week contest in the second semester, ninth graders apply the forecasting techniques they have learned to make real-life weather predictions locally and in cities across the country.

Every week, students enter a forecast for two cities. One is always Farmingdale, which has the closest official weather station at Republic Airport. The second city rotates each week and this year included Saranac Lake, New York; Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; International Falls, Minnesota; Barrok, Alaska; Mount Washington, New Hampshire; Honolulu; Seattle; San Francisco; Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; Chicago and Las Vegas. Before forecasting for a new city, a pair of students give a detailed presentation with relevant information such as normal weather conditions, weather records and topography.

During the competition, students enter a forecast for the two cities from Monday through Friday, including maximum temperature, minimum temperature and amount of precipitation that they think each city will have the following day. They access computer model data to guide their decision-making and submit their forecasts online. Predictions are then verified with the official observations from each weather station.

In addition to competing against fellow students, the students also compete against teacher Nicholas Donohue, alumni forecasters, the National Weather Service, other guest forecasters and various computer models. Each forecaster has a weather-related code name that is used to keep the identity of each competitor a secret until the end of the competition.

This year’s top overall student forecaster was Jeffrey R. (codename “Atmospheric River”), who finished second behind only Mr. Donohue (“Anvil Crawler”). Andreas E. (“Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service”) was the runner-up.

Matthew M. (“La Nina”) was the top finishing alumni forecaster, finishing fifth overall in this year’s competition. Now a sophomore at the high school’s main campus, he was the top student forecaster in last year’s competition. Winners received an academic prize along with a T-shirt welcoming them into the elite group of Massapequa forecasters known as the Chief Meteorologists.