Introduction to Weather Analysis

Meteorology 201

Introduction to Weather Analysis, Fall Semester 2020 

COURSE DESCRIPTION.  An introduction to the atmosphere, the forces that govern its motion, and the collection, display, and application of weather observations and numerical weather prediction models.  This course (or Meteo 101) is required for all Meteorology majors. 

Lecture: Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50 AM, 100 Thomas
Lab: Section 1, Friday 9:05-9:55 AM, 100 Huck 
        Section 2, Friday 1:25-2:15 PM, 101 Walker 

INSTRUCTOR.  Dr. Jon Nese, 518 Walker Building, 863-4076,   Twitter: @jmnese 

Held via Zoom:, Mon 6-7 PM, Tue 12-1 PM, Thu 9-10 AM 

Kelly Nunez-Ocasio ( Office hours: Tue 10-11AM, Wed 9-10AM
Marley Majetic ( Office hours:  Mon 10-11AM, Fri 230-330PM                                                     (also held via Zoom, using same link above) 


  • Always bring your mask.  And wear it during class.  More on this later in the syllabus.  
  • Typically, I enoy getting to know my Meteo 201 students with up-close discussions before and after class, and in my office, but the current situation makes that impossible this year. It’s a regrettable yet necessary consequence of COVID-19 and my family situation.  
  • But I plan on finding ways to make this an enjoyable, enlightening, and positive experience for you.  In an effort to get to know you right away, I will be hosting brief evening virtual meetings with you, in groups of two.  Expect a sign-up sheet early in the semester. 
  • My “office hours” will be virtual – hour-long Zoom sessions when you can stop in and pretty much ask me anything.  In the past, office hours have proven useful to many, many students looking for help with the homework, among other topics.
  • Our classroom on Monday and Wednesday is huge, typically seating more than 700.  We will only have about 60.  Fill in appropriate seating as close to the front of the class as possible, but please leave the first row empty. The classrooms on Friday are smaller, and we will work out the seating in those rooms in our first meeting.
  • I plan on starting class on time, and you should be there on time – especially on Monday and Wednesday when you will not have another class before ours.
  • In previous years, Meteo 201 met four hours per week (Friday was a double period).  This semester, we will only be meeting three hours per week, yet the amount of class material will be the same. This means I have to be efficient with our time together, and to do that, you will need to be prepared.  I expect you to skim over the material for the day (which will posted on Canvas, and dated) so that you at least have some familiarity with it. 


Of the choices in the left menu on Canvas, I will primarily use the “Files” tab.  If you click on that, you will see folders, including “Exam Information”, “Homework”, “Lectures”, and “Quiz Information.” 

  • The “Lectures” folder will contain my Powerpoint presentations and other information that is primarily related to the course lecture content (for example, a video or a word document).
  • The “Quiz Information” folder will contain solutions to the quizzes.  These solutions will be posted the week after you take the quizzes.
  • The “Homework” folder will contain the homeworks and then, once graded, the solutions.
  • The “Writing Assignments” folder will contain instructions for the two writing assignments.
  • The “Exam Information” folder will contain information about the Midterm and Final exams, and once those exams are grades, the solutions.

The weekly quizzes will be found in the “Quizzes” tab in the left menu on Canvas. 

You will submit your homeworks and your writing assignments via the “Assignments” tab.

TEXT. Required:  Jon Nese and Lee Grenci, 2018: A World of Weather, Sixth Edition
ISBN:  978-1-4652-9839-3 (need text AND website) 

I strongly believe that every student majoring in meteorology should own a quality introductory meteorology textbook (and this text fits that description), and I will constantly reference the book (and its figures, and its exercises) in this class. But I understand that there may be reasons why you do not want to purchase the book. Not having a copy of the book and access to the web site will make it more challenging to succeed in this course, but certainly not impossible.

WEB Most class materials will be posted on Canvas. You should check Canvas before each class and skim the material for that day.  I strongly recommend that you print materials that I post.  Also, you should bookmark the following web sites which will be used extensively in class:

I realize that over the course of the semester, there may be days when you do not feel well enough to attend class.  I am working to provide recordings of class so that you may view lectures at your convenience. 


Think of the class as consisting of a maximum of 1000 points.  Based on how many of those points you earn, you will earn the following grade:

  • >= 900 points A                                 
  • 800-899 points B                                
  • 700-799 points C
  • 600-699 points D
  • < 600 points  F

The points will be acquired through weekly homeworks, weekly quizzes, two papers, a Midterm exam, and a Final exam.  THERE IS NO EXTRA CREDIT IN THIS COURSE

HOMEWORKS (360 points)   There will be 13 homeworks, each worth 30 points – one each week except the week of the Midterm and the last week of class.  I will drop your lowest homework grade, so you can earn a maximum of 360 points from homework.  Homework will be assigned on Friday and due the following Wednesday by 10AM.  Homework will be submitted electronically via Canvas.  You can either write out your homework on paper, scan it (using Adobe Scan, for example) and submit it as a pdf file, or do your homework in a word document and submit that document.  More details on expectations for homework will be provided. 

Because you are given five days to do the homework, there will be a 25% penalty for any homework turned in late, 50% deduction for more than six hours late, and more than 24 hours late means no credit at all. 

QUIZZES (140 points)   There will be weekly quizzes on the meteorology in the class (except during the week of the midterm), each worth 10 points – that’s 14 quizzes.  I will drop your lowest quiz grade (so missing one quiz is not a problem), so you can earn a maximum of 130 points via these meteorology quizzes.  These quizzes will be administered via Canvas and will be available between 5PM Friday and 5 PM Saturday.  Details to follow. 

In addition, as a way to emphasize the importance of math in your meteorology studies, you will be given a 10-point quiz solely on mathematics (pre-calculus) at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester.  I will keep your highest grade of the three, and that will count as a 14th 10-point quiz – thus, you can earn a maximum of 140 points via quizzes.  These math quizzes will also be administered via Canvas.  Details to follow. 

PAPERS (150 points)   You will write two papers (details to follow), worth 60 and 90 points, respectively, so you can earn a maximum of 150 points.  You will submit the papers via Canvas. 

MIDTERM EXAM (150 points)   Will be given on Friday, October 9 and will be worth 150 points. 
FINAL EXAM (200 points)   Will be given during final exam week and will be worth 200 points. 

Note on missing exams: If for some reason you cannot take an exam in the arranged time, you must contact me IMMEDIATELY. Conflict/make-up exams will be given for legitimate reasons, but missing an exam is a serious matter. 


  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to plot, analyze, and interpret conventional maps of surface and upper-air data as well as soundings on a thermodynamic diagram.
  2. Students can demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of the basics by which atmospheric observations are taken, both in-situ and remotely.
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of synoptic-scale and tropical weather systems as well as of the general circulation of the atmosphere.
  4. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental forces that drive atmospheric motions both in the horizontal and vertical.
  5. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the basics of numerical weather prediction. 


  1. Students can demonstrate familiarity with key atmospheric variables and structures, the types of weather data available, the manner by which these data are collected, and some of the ways that these data are displayed, analyzed, and used.
  2. Students can demonstrate familiarity with the options in the BS degree for Meteorology. 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY.  This course follows the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences integrity guidelines found here: . Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure.  To learn more, see Penn State's "Academic Integrity Training." 

Specifically, as this policy pertains to this course:  You may never copy from another person and present that work as your own.  You are allowed to discuss problem sets with other students, but the work you turn in must be your own, in your own words.  Suspicion of copying on homeworks will result in a 50% reduction for the first offense, and an  F  for the course on the second offense.  Cheating on exams or quizzes will result in an immediate  F  for the course. 

COURSE COPYRIGHT.  All course materials that students receive or have online access to are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.  For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site violates this policy.  

ATTENDANCE.  The short version of my attendance policy is that I expect you to attend class every day unless there’s a good reason for your absence. 

Here’s the longer version.  Regular attendance is critical for building on the skills and knowledge developed throughout the class. Students who participate have a more complete understanding of the material presented and are more likely to succeed in the class. This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11: , and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: . Please also see Illness Verification Policy: , and Religious Observance Policy: . Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes. In all cases, you should inform me in advance, when possible. 

Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting your grade in this class.  In addition to illness (covered below), legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, and regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities.  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help: .  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form: , at least one week prior to the activity. 

Use the symptom checker of the Penn State GO app every day to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.  If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are otherwise not feeling well, DO NOT COME TO CLASS, and seek the advice of a medical professional as appropriate.  If you have been notified or know yourself that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, DO NOT COME TO CLASS and please make sure you have been reported as a close contact. I cannot stress this strongly enough. We are counting on you to help contain the spread of the virus (and other illnesses) on campus. 

If you need to isolate (because you are infected or have symptoms and are awaiting a test result) or quarantine (because you were a close contact to an infected person), the Student Support Services Office will let both of us know when you are allowed to attend class again.  If you attend class before the approved date, it will be a student conduct violation, because you are endangering the health of your classmates and me.  While you are in isolation or quarantine, I will work with you to help you maintain progress in the course as you are able.  [This may include participating remotely, watching the recorded class, and/or completing asynchronous course content.]  If you are not in class on your assigned day, you may be contacted by the instructor or the TA to check up on you and make sure you are okay.

According to University guidelines, and because of the distancing procedures in place for in-person classes, if someone in the class tests positive, we will continue with our regularly scheduled classes.

 PENN STATE E-MAIL ACCOUNTS   All official communications from Penn State (and me) are sent to your Penn State e-mail account. Check that account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account.  “I didn’t see the e-mail” is not a valid excuse. 

REPORTING BIAS-MOTIVATED INCIDENTS.  Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( ) and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage. 

WEATHER DELAYS.  Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: ). 

ACCOMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.  Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into its educational programs. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( ). For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

To receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: . If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES.  Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park: 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741 

MASK WEARING.  We know from existing scientific data that wearing a mask in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Just as you’re expected to wear a shirt and shoes to class every day, everyone – including the instructor – is required to wear a face mask in University buildings, including classrooms and labs. You MUST wear a mask appropriately (i.e., covering both your mouth and nose) in the building if you are attending class in person. Masks have been provided for students, faculty, and staff, and everyone is expected to wear one while on campus or out in the community. 

All students, faculty and staff are expected to maintain social distancing (i.e., maintain at least six feet of space between individuals) when possible. Seating patterns and attendance patterns, including assigned seating and closed-off desks/chairs/room sections, have been established to help allow for this distance for your safety. It is also important to follow related guidance communicated by the University and via public postings/signage related to directional traffic flow and maximum occupancy of spaces. 

You are not permitted to consume food or drink in classrooms, except for water. If you must drink water, please be especially conscious of maintaining social distancing and minimizing the time your mask is moved aside. Or, better yet, use a water bottle with a built-in straw. Cooperation from EVERYONE will help control the spread of the virus and help us get back to the previous version of campus life as quickly as possible. 

Students with conditions that make it difficult to wear a mask or who choose not to wear a mask should take Meteo 101, the online version of this course. This is to protect your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your classmates, instructor and the University community. Anyone attending class in person without a mask will be asked to put one on or leave. Refusal to comply with University policies is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Students who refuse to wear masks appropriately may face disciplinary action for Code of Conduct violations. See details here: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 3) Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2020, June 17) Coronavirus Face Masks & Protection FAQs. 

Lyu, W. and Wehby, G.L. (2020, June 16) Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Affairs. 2003& 

WEBCAM REQUIREMENTS.  This course may require you to have a webcam for class assessments. Classes and assessments may be conducted using Zoom or other technology selected by your instructor which may use your computer’s webcam or other technologies to communicate, monitor, and/or record classes, class activities, and assessments. Assessments may also be conducted using proctoring software, which may listen to you, monitor your computer screen, view you and your surroundings, and record (including visual and audio recordings) all activity during the proctoring process. Please contact me if you are unable to comply or have any questions or concerns.