Weather Forecasting for the Head of the Charles

Lodovica Illari
Friday, November 1, 2013

The MIT Weather Forecast Team has been forecasting for the Head of the Charles Regatta since 2009.

Read this story on the Synoptic Laboratory website.

The MIT weather forecast team was asked to forecast for this year's Head of the Charles Regatta, a major annual rowing competition that brings hundreds of rowers from around the world to Cambridge, MA. This marked the fifth consecutive year that our team has forecasted for the Regatta. The tradition began in 2009 when Vince Agard, then a junior in course 12, and Elizabeth Maroon, a senior also in course 12, volunteered to forecast. The organizers were so pleased by the efforts of our undergrads that we have been asked to forecast for this event ever since.

Roman Kowch forecasted for the Regatta for three consecutive years - from his junior year in 2010 to 2012, when he was a Master's student. Roman enjoyed the forecasting experience raving about one particular perk of the job: "In return for your efforts, you will receive a free Regatta volunteer jacket made by Brooks Brothers," Roman said. "They're quite high quality! I've gotten them each year I volunteered."

This year, Jen Landry, a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy and a Graduate Student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, took on the responsibility. She has been on the MIT team for the past two years and took the IAP class - Introduction to Weather Forecasting - last January.

The 2013 Regatta took place on Saturday and Sunday, October 19th and 20th. The weather was sunny but quite breezy - winds are one of the main concerns for the organizers because strong winds and rough waters can be very dangerous for the rowers. "I ended up sending 5 total forecasts," Jen recalled. "A mid-day [forecast] Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a late night [forecast] Friday and Saturday for the AM start. I monitored the Green Building station throughout each day, but my forecasts were close enough that I didn't need to send additional updates. They said winds were the main concern so I sent winds and discussed the rain possibility; luckily it was clear during the day every day so precipitation wasn't a concern."

This year the weather was collaborating but I am sure the organizers were happy to know that an MIT graduate was keeping a watchful eye on the weather!

Next year's Head of the Charles Regatta takes place on Saturday October 18 and Sunday, October 19, We very much hope that the organizers will call on our talented forecasters again in 2014.

If you are interested in joining MIT's Weather and Climate club or the MIT weather forecast team, please contact Lodovica Illari at illari [at] mit [dot] edu.


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