Lessons Learned

Forecasting Weeks for Caribou, ME, Jackson, MS, and Grand Junction, CO


Welcome to the last three cities in the WxChallenge Forecasting Contest, hosted by the University of Oklahoma.  The forecasting contest includes participants nationwide who are meteorology students, professors, or professionals.  The gist of the contest is to focus on one city for two weeks, forecasting daily four times each week for high temperature, low temperature, maximum sustained wind speed, and precipitation total amount (liquid equivalent).  In the Meteo 410 Certificate of Weather Forecasting class, our assignments were to choose a lesson learned for each week of each forecasting city and write it into our ePortfolio.  We began with Orlando, FL and Fresno, CA, which constituted the second ePortfolio assignment.

For our third ePortfolio assignment, we continued the task of choosing a Lesson Learned from each forecast week, two per city, and elaborate on what we learned and how it affects our forecasting technique.  The next two weeks focused on Caribou, ME, and the two weeks after that took us down to Jackson, MS.  The final two weeks were centered in Grand Junction, CO. 

Caribou, ME is a city in the most northeastern part of the state of Maine, almost in Canada.  It's located 150 miles west of the Atlantic at an elevation of 625 ft., and enjoys the large temperature gradients and precipitation of low pressure systems moving from the Great Lakes and Canada.  Our challenges for these two weeks had to do with persistent cloud cover, winds, precipitation, and the timing of frontal boundary arrivals.  Clouds moving in quicker than anticipated ahead of a front and persistent clouds after the passage of a low pressure system turned out to be the bolts in the carburetor, providing fodder for both lessons learned. 

Jackson, MS lies in the warm, humid southeastern Gulf states, where mid latitude storm systems still have a chance to pack a punch into winter, with severe possibilities and large temperature gradients accompanying frontal boundaries.  It lies 45 miles east of the Mississippi River, and 150 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, which almost constantly feeds moisture into the area on southeast winds.  It's elevation is at 291 ft. in low hills.  The timing of frontal boundaries and their subsequent cloud cover and precipitation proved to be one of our lessons learned for this city, the other being a reminder of the role the dry slot plays in a classic mid-latitude cyclone.

Grand Junction, CO is located in the Grand Valley high desert at 4,800 ft above sea level.  It's surrounded by mountains and is subject to valley breezes.  However, for our first forecasting period, a potent Arctic air mass with record snows came through and cast all the norms to the winds.  And those winds proved to be one of our biggest challenges for this city - down-valley winds and temperature inversions.  However, the effects of a strong arctic cold front behind a high-precipitation polar cold front proved to be the catalyst for our lesson learned.  MOS could not foresee the snowpack of record proportions nor how it would keep the temperatures so frigid.

Click on the city name below for an elaboration on each of the Lessons Learned complete with backup graphics.  In addition, I've added a section for synoptic-scale reflections, meaning reflections on the course as a whole.  A little weather humor there.  :D


Caribou ME - KCAR

Jackson MS - KJAN

Grand Junction CO - KGJT



Debbie Jarvis-Ferguson

Meteo 410

ePortfolio Assignment #3

December 17, 2006