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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
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Winter 2003 Bruin Walk

Weather Wise

Answering the call
Illustration by Calef Brown

by Marina Dundjerski '94

What's the thickness this morning? What about cloud coverage? That's what it's predicting for this afternoon?

Those are some of the questions posed by 14 UCLA atmospheric-sciences students matching wits with 900 participants across the country and Canada in a 26-week national weather forecasting competition.

UCLA's team of 13 graduates, one undergraduate and staff meteorologist James Murakami '82 has thus far forecasted for Calumet, Mich.; Los Angeles; Chicago; and Billings, Mont. — four of the eight locations for which they must predict high and low temperatures and precipitation for two-week periods.

"It's thrilling," says undergraduate Brian Tang. "You look at the computer models and what they're forecasting each day and then use the knowledge that we gained in class and our instinct to make a forecast for the next day."

Tang, who grew up in Denver, says he was piqued by the Rocky Mountain State's weather phenomena as a child. "It's in the curiosity of the young mind to ask why," Tang says. "Why do you have lightning, hail, thunderstorms and all that? I developed a greater interest, so I came to UCLA to study it."

UCLA is the only university in Southern California, and one of three in the state, to offer a degree in atmospheric sciences/meteorology, according to Murakami.

The team thought because it was predicting on its home turf that it would surely carry the Los Angeles category, but October's raging brush fires threw it a curve. The dense smoke that blanketed much of the region kept temperatures lower than expected. Still, the team placed second.

Currently, the team is in fifth place. But graduate student Greg Masi holds the No. 2 spot for individual forecasters. For more information, or to see the final results, go to:

2005 The Regents of the University of California