Jim Steenburgh

jim.steenburgh at utah.edu
Office hours: Drop in or by appointment

Atmos 5210/6210:
Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology II

Polar Low

Philosophy and Objectives

This examines modern day synoptic meteorology and its applications, with an emphasis on cyclones, fronts, and cool-season storms. Students completing this course should have a basic understanding of these weather phenomena and be able to apply that understanding for weather analysis and forecasting or meteorological research.


Two classes per week (10:45-12:05 TH). Some classes will involve instructor-led weather discussions, lectures, and student analysis. Others will be split between lecture and discussion of results from the class project.

Mar 1: Class

Mar 6: Class

Mar 8: Class/Project Discussion

Mar 13: Spring Break!

Mar 15: Spring Break!

Mar 20: Class

Mar 22: Class/Project Discussion

Mar 27: Class

Mar 29: Class/Project Discussion

Apr 3: Class

Apr 5: Class/Project Discussion

Apr 10: Class

Apr 12: Class/Project Discussion

Apr 17: Class

Apr 19: Class

Apr 24: Class


Grading is based on labs (20%), the class project (50%), and a final exam (30%). Grades on assignments will be reduced 15 points (out of 100) per day past the due date. The final exam will be held on April 28th at 1 PM as mandated by the Office of the Registrar.


There is no required text, but I will draw upon material from Midlatitude Synoptic Meteorology by Gary Lackmann and Mesoscale Meteorology in Midlatitudes by Paul Markowski and Yvette Richardson. Both are excellent texts and worth having on your bookshelf. Class notes will also be provided via this web page.

Required Computer Skills

Basic knowledge of MacOS and IDV. IDV YouTube tutorials are available here and some basic instructions are available here. You should also configure the IDV as directed here. Learn it and love it! The class project involves group activities that should draw on the diverse skills of those in the class, including talents in coding using matlab and/or python. Students in the class should work together to manage workloads so that all can contribute in areas that play to their strengths.

ADA Accomodations

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangement for accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.

Tentative Outline and Course Notes

I. Fronts

A. Basic descriptive dynamics

B. Kinematics

C. Frontogenesis

D. Surface fronts

E. Upper-level fronts

F. Intermountain front-mountain interactions

II. Cool-season storms

A. Cool-season precipitation: A primer

B. Cold-air damming

C. Orographic precipitation

D. Atmospheric rivers

E. Lake effect

III. Additional topics if time permits.