UMD Weather

Maryland weather by Maryland students

Tips and Structure for Weather Discussions

1. Start With the Big Picture:

When creating a weather briefing, start with big picture (synoptic scale) and work you way down to the fine details. The top down approach.

  • Regional radar/satellite loops and upper air analysis are a good way to show what is happening on the large scale
  • Make sure you know what type of data your looking at. Some websites have just model data , others use observed upper air data, or a combination of both.

2. Come back to the surface:

Before making a forecast. it is imperative to start with the current state of the atmosphere.

  • Use current surface analysis map to show large-scale features.
  • Don’t underestimate the information you can obtain from surface maps and how they can be used for making a forecast.

3. Do not forget weather does not just happen at the surface:

Upper level conditions are just as important for diagnosing the weather. Discuss the upper levels and make sure you apply what you learn to class to the discussions (thermal wind, jet structure,etc). Be sure to explain why something has occurred or will occur.

  • Use the standard levels (300mb, 500mb, 700mb,etc) and know what you should be looking for at each level. Explain why you are looking at a certain variable at a certain level and why it is important.

4. Model Discussion:

Most people’s favorite part of weather discussions. One of the most important tools a forecaster has, however, you need to understand the limitations and expectations when using models.

  • You and your partner will only have 15-20 minutes to present so there is no need to show every model. The Global Forecast System (GFS) and the ECMWF are two of the most commonly used models. It is always good to compare at least two models to show the uncertainty in your forecast.
  • Simplicity is key. No need to show every variable or derived parameter. Some will not be useful for your forecast, but it is always important to show the core variables such as vorticity and MSLP.
  • Don’t forget about ensemble guidance, which can be very useful.

5. Always include a 3 day forecast for the College Park.

The weather might not be very interesting , but it is important to include a forecast for our area.

  • However you do not need to exclusively talk about Maryland. The days you have your weather discussion there may be interesting weather in a different part of the country or global, which you are encouraged to discuss.
  • Lastly, it is important to show at least one unique map or graphic. This can include a new website or show a map of a variable that no one else previously used.



August 29, 2017 Weather Discussion

Tropical Storm Harvey

SPC Upper Air Analysis

Surface Analysis


12z Soundings


Harvey is Officially the Wettest Tropical System for the US

Short Term Forecast


Tropical Tidbits