FIU WxChallenge

Team Information:

The FIU WxChallenge team is a group of FIU meteorology undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni competing in the intercollegiate weather forecasting competition run by the University of Oklahoma through From September - April, we forecast the high/low temperature, wind speed, and precipitation for 10 different cities across the country.

FIU has been participating the WxChallenge since the 2009-2010 school year. Partipation is required for students who is taking Dr. Haiyan Jiang's Synoptic Meteorology course. The Department of Earth & Environment has been generously supporting the FIU team participiation by providing prizes to local winners each year since 2012-2013.

Several FIU students have been serving as the WxChallenge local manager under the sponsor of Dr. Hugh Willoughby (2009-2010) and Dr. Jiang (since 2010-2011). Below are our FIU local managers each year:
  • Chris Ponce: 2009-2010 & 2010-2011
  • Joe Zagrodnik 2011-2012 & 2012-2013
  • Alannah Irwin: 2013-2014 & 2014-2015
  • Justin Baldizon-Stark: 2015-2016 & 2016-2017
  • Rigoberto Olivera: 2017-2018
  • Results & Awards:

    Below are the results of the FIU team each year:
  • 2009-2010: Not placed (below 46th, total 46 teams nation-wide were placed )
  • 2010-2011: Not placed (below 51st, total 51 teams nation-wide were placed )
  • 2011-2012: 42nd out of 53 placed teams nation-wide
  • 2012-2013: 35th out of 52 placed teams nation-wide
  • 2013-2014: 36th out of 47 placed teams nation-wide
  • 2014-2015: 28th out of 47 placed teams nation-wide
  • 2015-2016: 40th out of 42 placed teams nation-wide
  • 2016-2017: Not placed (Dr. Jiang was on Sabbatical Leave and Synoptic class wasn't offered)

  • Individual Awards (national level):
  • In the 2012-2013 season, FIU graduate student Cheng Tao earned a trophy for finishing first in the graduate student category for the city of Duluth, MN (see picture on the right)!
  • In the 2015-2016 season, FIU undergraduate student Juan Carlos Pena earned a trophy for finishing second in the undergraduate student category for the city of Tampa Bay, FL (picture coming soon)!

  • Local Awards:
    We give out 11 local winner awards each year for the top ranked FIU team member locally for the 10 different cities and the final tournament round. Please see the list of local winners each year on the right. Please note that starting 2017-2018 school year, we set up a limit that each student can only win up to 3 local winner awards (one winning out of 5 cities in each semester and 1 winning for the final tournament round) each year.

    Signup Information for Spring 2018 WxChallenge is coming soon:

    The following PDF link gives an overview of the team and instructions on how to submit a forecast. Please contact our 2017-2018 local manager, Rigoberto Olivera (, for additional instructions.


    Trophy Cabinet

    2012-2013 Category 2 Winner
    Duluth MN: Cheng Tao

    2017-2018 Local Winners:

    • Providence, PI: Troy Anderson
    • Washington DC: Regan Ratcliff
    • Salt Lake City, UT: John Ratcliff
    • Quillayute, WA: Val Espina
    • Cleveland, OH: Christina Cockrell

    2016-2017 Local Winners:

    • Key West, FL: Alannah Irwin
    • Harrisburg, PA: Justin Stark
    • Grand Island, NE: Justin Stark
    • Reno, NV: Justin Stark
    • Trverse City, MI: Juan Pena
    • Seattle, WA: Justin Stark
    • Jackson, MS: Justin Stark
    • Kodiak, AK: Justin Stark
    • Bismarck, ND: Justin Stark
    • Nashville, TN: Justin Stark

    2015-2016 Local Winners:

    • Final Tournament winner: Justin Baldizon
    • Beckley, WV: Whitney Fenelon
    • Fort Wayne, IN: Stephanie De Souza
    • El Paso, TX: Angeline Fernandez
    • Aberdeen, SD: Maria Jacobson
    • New Orleans, LA: Charles Wirk
    • Green Bay, WI: Juan Pena
    • Tampa Bay, FL: Juan Pena
    • Durango, CO: Javiera Hernandes
    • Long Island, NY: Justin Stark
    • Sandberg, CA: Justin Stark

    2014-2015 Local Winners:

    • Tournament Little Rock, AR winner: Justin Stark
    • Wilmington, NC: Tony Cosio
    • Butte, MT: Alannah Irwin
    • Caribou, ME: Eric Reed
    • Abilene, TX: Brian Matilla (
    • Sault Ste. Marie, MI:Justin Stark
    • Phoenix, AZ: Brian Matilla
    • Springfield, IL: Brian Matilla
    • Long Beach, CA: Justin Stark
    • Montgomery, AL: Justin Stark
    • Laramie, WY: Justin Stark

    2013-2014 Local Winners:

    • Houston, TX: Brian Matilla
    • Cheyenne, WY: Brian Matilla
    • Norman, OK: Justin Baldizon
    • Concord, NH: Tony Cosio
    • Grand Rapids, MI: Alannah Irwin
    • Atlanta, GA: Justin Baldizon
    • Fairbanks, AK: Cheng Tao
    • Baltimore, MD: Brian Matilla
    • Redding, CA: Justin Cuomo
    • Grand Forks, ND: Alannah Irwin

    2012-2013 Local Winners:

    • Overall winner: Mike Fischer, 122nd place
    • Pensacola, FL: Pete Curran
    • Billings, MT: Joe Zagrodnik
    • Louisville, KY: Jonathan Furst
    • Astoria, OR: Brian Matilla
    • Syracuse, NY: Mike Fischer
    • Austin, TX: Szandra Peter
    • Burbank, CA: Szandra Peter
    • Newark, NJ: Alannah Irwin
    • Duluth, MN: Cheng Tao
    • Des Moines, IA: Joe Zagrodnik