University News

WIU Meteorology Students Win National Forecasting Awards

November 30, 2016

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MACOMB, IL – Two Western Illinois University meteorology students recently won national weather forecasting awards.

Sean Colgan, a senior from Canton, IL, placed third in the nation in the WxChallenge (Weather Challenge) Forecasting Competition and second in the category of undergraduate juniors and seniors. The competition is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma.

The WxChallenge is a competition that forecasts weather for 11 cities each year, five per semester and then a tournament city at the end of the spring semester. The weather for each city is forecast a total of eight times, including its high and low temperatures, sustained wind speed and precipitation.

"I am very proud to have placed nationally in the WxChallenge Forecasting Competition," said Colgan. "It is not easy forecasting the many variables that influence the high and low temperatures, wind speed and precipitation, especially for a city that is hundreds of miles away like Grand Island, NE. WIU has equipped me with the knowledge to have made this possible, and for that, I couldn't be more thankful to my professors and peers."

WIU Associate Professor of Geography Marcus Büker said the student forecasters used a variety of tools (computer model output, satellite imagery, radar and climatological data), as well as their own experience and knowledge of meteorology, to produce as accurate a forecast as possible.

WIU students have placed in the competitions several times over the past few years. WIU senior Zachary Case, of East Alton, IL, placed second in the competition last year, forecasting for the city of Durango, CO.

For more information about the challenge, visit For more information on WIU's meteorology program, visit

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