MACOMB, IL – A group of Western Illinois University faculty and students have advanced to the finals of a national weather forecasting competition, after placing as one of the top 16 teams in the United States.
The eight member WIU team placed 15th to advance to the final round of the WxChallenge, which is tentatively scheduled to begin the first week of May. The initial competition to advance was to forecast the maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation and maximum wind speeds for select U.S. cities over a 10-week period.
WIU Associate Professor of Meteorology Marcus Büker was the faculty member on the team, and was joined by GIS/geography graduate student Richard Sample, of Macomb; Anthony Yattoni, a senior meteorology major, of Morrisville, IL; Ian Stearns, a junior meteorology major, of Springfield, IL; Brandon Maxey, a junior meteorology major, of Pawnee, IL; MacCartney Briton, a senior emergency management major and weather/climate minor, of Colchester, IL; and Anna Noble, a sophomore meteorology major, of Aledo, IL.
The WIU student forecasters used a variety of tools (computer model output, satellite imagery, radar and climatological data), as well as their own experience and knowledge of meteorology, to produce as accurate a forecast as possible.
During each round of the finals, each team’s consensus forecast will be matched against that of another team for two days. The team with the lower two-day total error points will advance to the next round.
“I am proud to say that during this, my final year at WIU, our forecasters did well enough to go to the ‘Big Dance’ WxChallenge Team Tournament,” said Büker.
In addition, Büker and Sample competed in the individual portion of the competition, with both making it to the final round of 64. Büker said he fell in the first round by 2.5 points and Sample fell in the second round by one degree in predicting the low temperature of Kansas City, MO.
For more information about the challenge, visit wxchallenge.com. For more information on WIU’s meteorology program, visit wiu.edu/academics/majors/arts_and_sciences/meteorology.php.