METEO 005

Severe and Unusual Weather

METEO 005 – Severe and Unusual Weather

Fall 2014
Class Location: 160 Willard Building
Class Time: MWF 2:30-3:20 PM

Instructor: Alicia Klees
E-mail: amk5375@psu.edu
Office: 406 Walker Building
Office Hours: Wednesday: 9:30-10:30 AM, Thursday: 11:30 AM -12:30 PM, or by appointment

TA: Dana Tobin
E-mail: dmt5296@psu.edu
Office: 406 Walker Building
Office Hours: Tuesday: 2:30-3:30, or by appointment

Objectives:
Students will learn about the fundamental principles that govern severe and unusual weather. Concepts are taught in a descriptive manner without relying heavily on mathematics; thus, the material is highly accessible to students with a wide variety of backgrounds. It is believed that learning about weather is enhanced by experiencing weather. For this reason, the class frequently draws upon examples of significant historical and recent severe weather events. Students will be able to apply what they have learned immediately to weather events occurring near their homes or around the world.

This offering of the course will focus on two major units. The unit on hazardous cold-season phenomena treats the formation of freezing and frozen precipitation, lake-effect snowstorms, and blizzards. The unit on hazardous warm-season weather treats thunderstorms and larger-scale conglomerations of thunderstorms known as convective systems, including hurricanes. Students will also learn about hazards associated with thunderstorms, such as tornadoes, flash floods, lightning, and hailstorms.

Depending on students’ interests and current weather events, we will not necessarily spend equal amounts of time on the aforementioned topics. I currently anticipate spending a significant portion of the class on warm-season weather, like thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

Required Textbook:
Severe & Hazardous Weather, 4th Edition, by Robert M. Rauber, John E. Walsh, and Donna J. Charlevoix
***This book is on reserve at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Library in Deike Building.***

Course Website:
Slides for each lecture will be posted on ANGEL. Homework assignments will typically be posted and submitted on ANGEL. Answer keys will be posted after grading is complete. Midterm answer keys will be posted after midterm grading is complete. Additional links and recommended websites may be mentioned in class and posted on ANGEL under "Resources".

Grading Policy:

  • A 94-100%
  • A- 90-93%
  • B+ 86-89%
  • B 83-85%
  • B- 80-82%
  • C+ 76-79%
  • C 70-75%
  • D 60-69%
  • F 0-59%
  • Best Midterm Grade 20%
  • Worst Midterm Grade 15%
  • Best ~12 Homeworks 35%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Extra Credit up to 6%

Midterms: Two midterm exams will be administered on Tuesday, September 30 and Friday, November 14 at the Pollock Testing Center (approximately a week prior to each exam, you will be given instructions on how to self-schedule your exams). Make-up exams may be scheduled at my convenience for excused absences that you notify me about in advance. The make-up exam should be taken before the scheduled exam time, if at all possible. Please contact me ASAP if you know you will be missing an exam.

In case you're having a bad day on one of the exam days, the lowest grade of the two midterms will count for only 15% of your grade in the class, while the midterm with the highest grade will count for 20%. Before each midterm there will be an entire class period devoted to review, and potentially an evening review session. Midterm exams are non-cumulative –that is, Midterm #2 will only cover the material studied since Midterm #1's cutoff.

Homework: Homework will be assigned approximately weekly. Homework must be submitted on or before the due date/time in order to receive credit, except in cases in which my permission was obtained beforehand. Note that your lowest homework assignment score will be dropped, so you’ll have some breathing room.
Final Exam: The date and location of the final cumulative exam will be announced when it is confirmed by the university at the end of September—the date will be sometime during Finals Week, December 15-19. There will be a review session in our final lecture to help prepare you, and I will hold extra office hours during that last week of classes.

Extra Credit: Three extra-credit assignments will be posted to ANGEL. You may choose up to two of them, and each can earn you up to 3% extra credit. All extra-credit will be due by 11:55 PM on Friday, December 5, with no exceptions.

Participation and Attendance:
While no formal grades will be given for participation or attendance (no pop quizzes), you are strongly encouraged to attend all lectures unless you have a valid reason not to. Some examinable material will only be covered in class and will not be included in the slides that will be posted on ANGEL.
That being said, if you are feeling ill, please stay home and take care of yourself! If you miss a lecture for whatever reason, I encourage you to ask a classmate for a run-down of what you may have missed.

Academic Integrity:
All infractions will be pursued in accordance with the Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy (http://www.ems.psu.edu/current_undergrad_students/academics/integrity_policy). Infractions include, but are not limited to: copying someone else's work, knowingly allowing someone else to copy your work, submitting someone else's work without proper citation, altering exams after having them handed back in an attempt to raise your grade, and submitting previously used work without permission. I will issue sanctions ranging from a 0 on the assignment/exam in question, to an F in the course, to recommended removal from your academic program, based on my assessment of the severity of the infraction.

Disability Access:
If you wish to receive academic accommodations for a documented disability, the Office of Disability Services would like to hear from you as soon as possible in order to assist: http://equity.psu.edu/ods/forms/contact-ods-form. Note that university policy states that any accommodations require documentation, so be sure to have that ready when you contact them.

*Tentative* Schedule (Subject to Adjustments):

  • August 25 (M): Lecture 1: Course syllabus, Properties of Atmosphere (Ch. 1)
  • August 27 (W): Lecture 2: Properties of Atmosphere/Meteorological Measurements (Ch. 1, 2)
  • August 29 (F): Lecture 3: Meteorological Measurements/Weather Maps (Ch. 2, 3)
  • September 1 (M): NO CLASS
  • September 3 (W): Lecture 4: Atmospheric Stability (Ch. 6)
  • September 5 (F): Lecture 5: Atmospheric Stability (Ch. 6)
  • September 8 (M): Lecture 6: Hurricanes (Ch. 24)
  • September 10 (W): Lecture 7: Hurricanes (Ch. 24)
  • September 12 (F): Lecture 8: Hurricanes (Ch. 24)
  • September 15 (M): Lecture 9: Hurricanes (Ch. 24)
  • September 17 (W): Lecture 10: Hurricanes (Ch. 24)
  • September 19 (F): Lecture 11: Pressure Systems (Ch. 8)
  • September 22 (M): Lecture 12: Pressure Systems/Fronts (Ch. 8,9)
  • END OF MATERIAL FOR MIDTERM #1
  • October 27 (M): Lecture 27: Storm Chasing
  • October 29 (W): Lecture 28: Severe Weather Safety/Myths
  • END OF MATERIAL FOR MIDTERM #2
  • October 31 (F): Lecture 29: Hailstorms (Ch. 20)
  • November 3 (M): Lecture 30: NASA Hurricane Field Experiment/Forecasting (Guest Lecture)
  • November 5 (W): Lecture 31: Rainbows/Optical Phenomena (Guest Lecture)
  • November 7 (F): NO CLASS (most likely)
  • November 10 (M): Lecture 32: REVIEW FOR MIDTERM #2
  • November 12 (W): Lecture 33: Flooding (Ch. 25)
  • November 14 (F): MIDTERM #2 (location: Pollock Testing Center) – NO CLASS
  • November 17 (M): Lecture 34: Lightning (Ch. 22)
  • November 19 (W): Lecture 35: Freezing Precipitation (Ch. 12)
  • November 21 (F): Lecture 36: Lake Effect Snowstorms (Ch. 13)
  • November 24 (M): NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING
  • November 26 (W): NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING
  • November 28 (F): NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING
  • December 1 (M): Lecture 37: Being a TV Meteorologist (Guest Lecture)
  • December 3 (W): Lecture 38: Blizzards (Ch. 15)
  • December 5 (F): Lecture 39: Blizzards (Ch. 15) EXTRA CREDIT DUE
  • December 8 (M): Lecture 40: Climate Change
  • December 10 (W): Lecture 41: Climate Change Impacts
  • December 12 (F): Lecture 42: REVIEW FOR FINAL
  • FINAL EXAM: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 8:00-9:55 AM (160 Willard)

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