Top 5 Universities for Operational Forecasters in Meteorology14 Nov , 2011 | 16
I have seen plenty of universities that are biased towards research and development in meteorology. In fact, some of the “top rated” universities in Meteorology (or Atmospheric Science) like Cornell and MIT are very much research oriented. And that’s not a bad thing…but if you want to be an operational forecaster in meteorology…it would be nice to know which universities are top rated for operational forecasting.
And if you want to know what I mean by “Operational”, read my earlier post, “Can operational meteorologists make a six figure salary?”. Also, my focus here is on the “undergraduate” B.S. programs, not the masters or PHD which are slated to be in another post.
I went on the look out for the top 5 operational forecasting schools in meteorology and judged them by the following factors: How many operational forecasting courses do they offer? Are there are a lot of private companies/operational forecasters in close vicinity to the school? Do they offer broadcast meteorology courses? And just the overall ranking and location of the school….and here’s what I found:
The Top 5 Universities for Operational Forecasters in Meteorology are:
#5 University of Miami—it’s pretty hard to complain about location here…you get to attend a meteorology school by the beach with warm weather…there’s not many schools out there where you can brag about that! But, I picked University of Miami in my top 5 because of the various courses they offer in general forecasting, hurricane forecasting, and oceanography. Plus they tend to emphasize how important communication is in forecasting the weather. (See why looks do matter in TV weather)
With hurricanes continuing to cost billions of dollars in damage in the US, private consultants continue to hire meteorologists who are excellent hurricane and severe weather forecasters. Just being in Miami offers a wealth of experience right there! And it doesn’t hurt that Miami is the headquarters of the National Hurricane center and has the most “lightning” than any other state. Plus there are private employers down the road in Juno Beach, FL like “NextEra Energy” who’s subsidiary is Florida Power and Light…who has the largest presence of wind farms in the US. (See why wind meteorologists are valuable).
#4: University of Washington—I’d call this the feeder school to a meteorology job in renewable energy. Many of University of Washington’s graduates are pouring into wind meteorology jobs that are spread across the Portland/Seattle areas…and parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve mentioned a few of these companies in (Top 5 cities to hire Energy Meteorologists).
In addition, University of Washington offers a beautiful campus in Seattle, and after you’ve completed 4 years here…you’ll be an expert in forecasting Pacific jet streams, wind, and especially “Rain”!
#3: University of Oklahoma—it’s definitely been called one of the “top meteorology institutions in the country”. OU I’d say is the severe weather university capital of the US. The campus is even connected to NOAA’s NWS Norman office….how cool is that! You get to witness first hand some of the top severe weather forecasters in the country. OU has a great variety of operational forecasting courses and many of the graduates move into the private sector and TV. (Read the top 10 steps on how to get a weather internship at a TV station”
If you’ve ever wanted to get into storm chasing…I’d say OU and Texas A&M can’t be beat!
#2: Texas A&M—I’d call Texas A&M one of the top feeders of grads to meteorology employment in Houston. As you know from my previous post in “Top 5 Cities that hire Energy meteorologists”, Houston is #1. Houston also hires aviation meteorologists, private weather consultants, TV meteorologists, and many more. I’d say Houston has more meteorologists than any other large metropolitan city over 1 million people.
College Station, TX (where Texas A&M is located) is less than an hour and a half away from Houston. What is great about A&M is its proximity to severe weather….mesoscale thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes! A lot of A&M grads are known to be excellent storm chasers and severe weather experts. It’s been consistently rated as a top school in meteorology and has an excellent set of forecasting courses.
And the winner is….
Penn State has the best operational meteorology school in the country…hands down! Penn State offers a dynamic course schedule filled with lots of options for the Operational Forecaster in Meteorology. You can even enter a core concentration within Atmospheric Science…and some of the operational concentrations include “Weather Forecasting and Communications”, “Weather Risk Management”, and “Environmental Meteorology”.
Some of the courses that stand out are as following, “Weather Communications 1”, “Map Analysis”, “Advanced Forecasting”, “Computer Methods of Meteorological Analysis and Forecasting”, to name a few. They even have an online forecasting course you can do for some credit which may be ideal for TV broadcasters who don’t truly understanding meteorology and forecasting.
And guess what…the Penn State meteorology program feeds into a variety of companies. AccuWeather employs many Penn State graduates including Penn State’s current students through internships. Accuweather is located within close proximity to Penn State University. And just for kicks…I looked at all the weather channel personalities and where they went to school…and a majority of them came from Penn State! Penn State even has a beautifully designed weather center where students can practice on the green screen. You can see a photo of it up top. It’s the real deal! (Read about my experience on the “Green Screen”)
Is there anything that you’d like to add about your school above? Or do you feel that your school should be in the top 5? Let me know by putting your comments below!