What is meteorology?
Meteorology majors acquire the knowledge and skills needed to understand one of the most influential phenomena on our planet: the weather. As a meteorology major, you’ll acquire knowledge about both the scientific and human elements of weather systems, combining an understanding of atmospheric physics and forecasting with a significant focus on geospatial technology. This unique feature will allow you to better understand the impacts that weather has on the ground in the day-to-day lives of people.
Learn more about this major and the Department of Geography.
What will I learn in this major?
Students majoring in meteorology take courses in a variety of core areas that include geography, mapping and geospatial information systems (GIS), human systems, math, physics, and statistics. Students must also complete degree requirements in the study of meteorology such as an introduction and survey of meteorology, weather analysis, severe weather, dynamic meteorology, synoptic meteorology, and physical meteorology.
Students can participate in the annual Hokie Storm Chase, which tracks severe weather across Tornado Alley in the Great Plains in late May.
Why study meteorology at Virginia Tech?
- Virginia Tech’s meteorology program is distinguished from its peers by its incorporation of geospatial information technology within the study of classical meteorology. Students learn to predict severe weather and to model and assess its impacts on landscape features and the human environment.
- You can find hands-on opportunities to apply what you’ve learned on campus like Ben Sheppard, who was named the first-ever “Official Forecaster” of The Marching Virginians.
- Students participating in the Rocky Mountain field course travel to sites like Colorado to learn about weather systems and meteorology while negotiating the challenges of high altitudes and rapidly changing weather conditions.
- Internships are highly recommended and are a great way to obtain experience and try out careers. Mason Sorrell interned with the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he developed radar forecasting techniques to better predict and mitigate lightning impacts on space missions. Colleen Pramenko worked with the 45th Weather Squadron, where she analyzed data from weather towers to help predict where thunderstorms will develop. Other internship locations include AccuWeather, the National Weather Service, NASA, NOAA, and local new stations.
- You’ll learn from faculty like Dave Carroll, who has placed weather stations on top of the highest mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, and Stephanie Zick, who studies tropical cyclone dynamics.
- The department offers opportunities for graduate study that attract students like Peter Forister, who is pursuing a master’s and using geographic information system (GIS) technology to create maps showing how tornadoes have scarred vegetation. His work has received mention in the Washington Post.
- You might be interested in a minor in geographic information science or one of the integrated Pathways minors such as blue planet, data and decisions, pathways to sustainability, or peace studies and social justice. The addition of a minor will give you additional expertise, allow you to pursue a passion, and help you stand out in the job market.
- Student organizations such as the Meteorology Club and the CNRE Ambassadors provide an opportunity to connect with others with similar interests and get involved on campus and in the community.
What can I do with a degree in meteorology?
Graduates in meteorology may enter the job market or pursue a graduate degree in the field. Career possibilities are listed below. Some potential employers include NASA, FEMA, NOAA, the National Weather Service, the shipping industry, power companies, airlines, the military, the U.S. Department of Defense, television and radio stations, weather application developers, The Weather Channel, and other weather forecasting groups.
- Climatologist — Researches long-term weather patterns and influencers; presents findings at conferences or to employers, government agencies, and other groups; and uses data to address climate issues and/or help people to adapt.
- Emergency management specialist — Specializes in the prevention, preparedness, and response to natural and manmade disasters.
- Geospatial analyst — Examines a wide range of data, including geographic information systems (GIS), aerial photographs, maps, and soil and other environmental samples.
- Meteorologist — Interprets Doppler radar data, satellite imagery, and other meteorological and hydrologic data, and prepares and issues warnings for a weather service area concerning hazardous weather conditions such as severe weather, high winds, flash floods, marine effects, winter storms, etc.