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Campus meteorologists launch forecasting website

This past winter was interesting in terms of weather; it was the snowiest season since 1996, with snowfall accumulating so high, that cities did not know what to do with the plowed white stuff.

The blizzard sparked media attention, as well as the attention of two Millersville meteorology majors, who decided to take advantage of the blizzard by educating themselves on accurate weather forecasting.

Kris Gundel, a freshman and Tyler Morrow, sophomore, both Meteorology majors just launched their forecasting website this weekend, called Weather Snap, which has no association with The Snapper.

The website forecasts for the Mid-Atlantic area. The idea for the website started on Facebook with the February Blizzard, “There is a blizzard coming how cool would it be to start our own forecasting team,” Gundel said was his idea for the site.

With that, they launched a Facebook group called Weather Snap, which currently has 540 fans. Right now the team is trying to emphasize their website, http://www.weathersnap.org. They are currently working on putting all of their old posts from Facebook and putting them on the website, “so you will see what we have already done,” Morrow said. They are also looking to transfer their Facebook fans to the website.

Their website will offer a forecast map that Gundel and Morrow put together, showing the snow fall amounts, there will be visual maps with a key showing snow fall accumulations within the forecast area. “We only put out maps for rain if there is a severe weather or flooding issue,” said Morrow.

Their website will act as a communication tool that other websites do not have. It will be an open comment website, meaning individuals can ask questions, and Gundel and Morrow will respond.

Currently, their website is updated with at least four forecasts a week, “this will increase to three to four times a day when a major storm is approaching,” Morrow said.

So far, their forecasting has been mostly accurate, although they have yet to take any forecasting classes, “We forecast through our own experience and knowledge, we pretty much nailed the forecast for the February 2 blizzard,” Morrow said. They have been off in their forecasting, but they find their website a useful tool to track their progress.

“Many of the fans are impressed by our accuracy. We really picked up on the techniques that other meteorologists use and have also gotten help from Erichorst, the weather center manager at MU,” Morrow said.

Their accuracy stems from a step-by-step process. First they see the potential storm by looking at forecast models found on http://www.noaa.gov. “We see a general consistency of a storm approaching, and we’ll watch that time frame,” said Morrow. They then watch the storm as it approaches and try to pin-point the track of the storm using all of their forecasting resources. “Once the storm track is down to a general consensus we look to determine the temp,” Gundel said. It is a winter storm these temperatures are important to determine if the location gets rain or snow. “As the storm gets fairly close, we try to determine the location of the highest amounts of precipitation,” Gundel said.

This website is acting as a learning opportunity for Gundel and Morrow, they are looking to eliminate the occasional wrong forecast by gaining experience.

“We want to keep everyone informed about the weather that will affect them and allow them to ask questions that they might have,” Morrow said.