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Freshmen Forecasters Explore the Science of Weather Predicting


From the highest peak in the northeast to the beaches of Hawaii and 10 places in between, ninth graders in meteorology classes at Massapequa High School’s Ames Campus spent 12 weeks making weather predictions. On June 13, students from both classes came together to learn the winners of the annual forecast competition.

The contest is held during the second semester, so students can use the knowledge they gain from the first half of the year in the science elective class. Students made predictions for the nearest weather station at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, and also for a different United States city each week.

Among the locations were Mount Washington, N.H, Lake Saranac, N.Y., Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Orlando. Before forecasting for a new city, a pair of students did a presentation about that location, including typical climate, record weather conditions and topography. Every day of the week, students would enter a forecast for Republic Airport and the second city, and were able to access computer model data to guide their decisions.

When the competition ended, the forecaster with the fewest error points was declared the winner. Also competing were meteorology teachers Nicholas Donohue and Gregg Hession, alumni and special guests. Every participant had a weather-related code name to keep their identity secret until the end.

This year’s top student forecaster was Alex O., who finished third overall. The runner-up to Alex was Jackson C. They both received T-shirts and were welcomed into the group of Chief Meteorologists. Honorable mention among student forecasters went to Jayden C., Sean D., Matt C. and Jack E.

Students said that while the competition was definitely challenging, they enjoyed it.

“It takes a lot of accuracy and precision to be right,” Alex said.