Far More than Fair with Weather

The WxChallenge, whose 2016-17 champion is UAlbany's Ross Lazear, requires that contestants forecast for high and low temperatures, wind speeds and precipitation in several North American cities. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 9, 2017) — Led by Ross Lazear, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) instructional support specialist, weather forecasting at UAlbany is still flying high in North America.

Lazear became the 2016-17 WxChallenge Tournament champion this past weekend, besting 63 other forecasters from many of the top university atmospheric science programs in the country. The tournament followed 20 weeks of competitions in which more than 1,800 faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students competed to most precisely forecast the weather in ten different North American cities.

Lazear was the cumulative winner in the faculty/staff contest for all ten cities, and Philippe Papin, a DAES Ph.D. candidate who was the tournament winner a year ago, finished runner-up in the overall graduate student division.

UAlbany finished third in the team standings among 141 colleges and universities from the U.S. and Canada. The eight WxChallenge trophy winners from UAlbany are now added to 31 from the previous five years.

Ross Lazear WxChallenge 2017 champion
Ross Lazear of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

“While WxChallenge forecasts are always made individually, over the past several years UAlbany’s weather forecasting team has consistently placed in the top four, and each year we always enjoy receiving a large box of trophies at the end of the season!,” said Lazear.

“Our team is made up of juniors, seniors, graduate students and faculty. Undergraduates learn to forecast in ATM 211, ‘Weather Analysis and Forecasting,’ a core atmospheric science course that I teach every spring."

UAlbany trophy winners in the WxChallenge, which went to first or second-place finishers in the individual city competitions, were:

  • Key West, FL — Lazear, overall winner
  • Key West, FL — William Flamholtz, junior/senior undergraduate winner
  • Grand Island, NE — Assistant Professor Kristen Corbosiero, faculty/staff winner
  • Grand Island, NE — Papin, graduate student runner-up
  • Reno, NV — Corbosiero, faculty/staff winner
  • Seattle, WA — Assistant Professor Brian Tang, faculty/staff winner
  • Kodiak, AK — Lazear, faculty/staff runner-up
  • Nashville, TN — Lazear, faculty/staff winner
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX — Ph.D. candidate Ernesto Findlay B.S. ’14, overall winner
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX — Postdoctoral fellow Nick Bassill, faculty/staff winner
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX — M.S. candidate Massey Bartolini, graduate student runner-up

Tournament participants were selected based on the best performances over the 20-week city competitions. The tournament city under study was Dallas/Fort Worth and was conducted in a bracketed "March Madness-style" elimination through six rounds. Both Lazear and Corbosiero made it to the “Elite 8,” with Lazear advancing to the title game.

The final match involved a challenging forecast in which Lazear correctly forecast Dallas/Fort Worth’s overnight low temperature, edging out Bret Walts of Indiana University.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.