The science of weather

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Weather has (obviously) been on a lot of people's minds lately, what with the subzero temperatures at University Park and other Penn State campuses across the state. For Throwback Thursday we offer you a group of 1953 meteorology students observing the atmosphere using a weather balloon and instruments from the top of what is most likely the Mineral Industries Building, where outdoor observations on campus were taken before the 1960s.

Today, the Department of Meteorology is world renowned for its expertise, expanding the frontiers of knowledge in meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric physics and climate science. Alumni are highly sought after by employers, with nearly 100 percent job placement for students graduating with advanced degrees in meteorology. It is difficult to visit any weather-related company, or attend any weather or climate meeting, and not meet a Penn State meteorologist.

But meteorology is a comparatively young science, and at Penn State it did not become a full-fledged academic department until 1954. Among its early and most prominent faculty is Professor Emeritus Charles Hosler, who recounts an occasion when Ralph Hetzel -- president of Penn State from 1927-47 -- needed a forecast for an upcoming commencement ceremony that was to be held outdoors...

Professor recalls the early days of PSU meteorology department

When a young Charles Hosler started out as a meteorology instructor at Penn State there wasn't much respect for the burgeoning science among the populace. Many saw it as educated "guesswork." Even Penn State's then-president, Ralph Hetzel, had his own doubts about the ability to predict the weather consistently and accurately. Listen to now-Professor Emeritus Hosler recount his exchange with Hetzel and how Hetzel's distrust of Hosler's forecast led to a very "interesting" commencement ceremony.

C Roy Parker


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Last Updated February 25, 2015