Remote Day? Decision-makers Consider Professor's Forecast

Feb 19, 2021

Dr. Mario Majcen considers weather data from around the area to develop his forecast.

mario majcen

Wintry weather means extra “homework” for meteorologist Dr. Mario Majcen.

Majcen, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, sends regular weather forecasts to interim President Robert Thorn and a team of Cal U leaders when snow, ice or other inclement weather seems likely.

 “I send at least two updates each day, late evening around 10 p.m. and early morning around 6 a.m., and at other times as needed,” Majcen said.

The University’s “weather team” uses those forecasts, plus information from the National Weather Service and eyewitness reports from campus police and facilities crews, to determine when Cal U should issue a weather alert and delay classes or shift to remote operations.

Majcen uses specialized software and weather prediction models to develop a forecast based on surface weather observations and data from weather balloons, satellites and radar.

Because Cal U has a large commuter population, he looks at weather patterns not just on campus, but throughout the surrounding region.

“Dr. Majcen’s forecasts are tremendously helpful,” said “weather team” leader Fawn Petrosky, interim vice president for Administration and Finance. “Weather is so unpredictable, as we’ve seen over the past several weeks.

“When severe weather seems likely, our team looks at all the information available, so we can make the best decision for our campus community. Having this extra data gives us a better idea of what we can expect.”

Majcen has provided the forecasts to University leaders for years, Thorn said.

“It adds another layer of information that we can use in our decision-making. Our University is fortunate to have his expertise available.”

Majcen involves his students in the forecasting process. Most wintry weather occurs during the spring semester, when he teaches courses in weather analysis and forecasting.

“In the laboratory component of those courses, students work on the same forecasts, and their forecasts and ideas are incorporated in my reports to administrators,” Majcen said.

“I think that service-learning is important for students, and I am proud of my students’ service to the University. They do an excellent job, and it makes my forecasting tasks easier.”

Cal U announces weather-related delays, cancellations and “remote days” through a variety of channels, including email, the Cal U website and social media. To receive emergency notification by test message, students, faculty and staff can register for Cal U Alerts.