COD Weather Forecasting Team Places Sixth in National WxChallenge


By Brian Kleemann

The College of DuPage weather forecasting team placed sixth in the prestigious WxChallenge and was the only community college among competing schools throughout the U.S. and Canada.  

It’s the highest finish yet for College of DuPage and the second time COD has landed in the top 10. Associate Professor of Meteorology Vittorio Gensini said the result underscores the team’s dedication toward the forecasting process.

“What’s most impressive is how focused the team was,” he said. “Students work much like forensics experts examining a crime scene. To finish at the top, forecasters must be very good at deciphering puzzles on a daily basis.”

The WxChallenge is a collegiate competition open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. For 10 weeks during the fall semester and another 10 weeks during the spring semester, forecasters predict the high and low temperature, maximum sustained wind speed, and total precipitation for 10 specified locations across the U.S.

While Penn State won the challenge, College of DuPage finished ahead of such schools as the University of Oklahoma and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. College of DuPage’s highest scorer was Mike Zuranski (Woodridge), support analyst for the school’s Meteorology program, while the highest-scoring student was Kelly Swaney (Naperville), who was participating for the first time.

Originally an English major, Swaney enrolled in a meteorology class during her first college semester because she thought it would be interesting. Her current goal is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology at Northern Illinois University and become a forecaster.

“Weather always scared me, so I wanted to learn more about it,” she said. “I now feel more prepared when severe weather occurs.”

Other participants on College of DuPage’s team include Professor of Meteorology Paul Sirvatka, Meteorology Lab Assistant Evan Anderson, and students/alumni John Morinec, Gene Poletto, Amanda Goluszka, Scott Bergholzer, Nathanial Mowbray, Patrick Skach, Valerie Villarreal, Sam Augustyn, James Baugh, Margo Andrews, Brent Conklin and Matt Piechota.

For more information about the Meteorology program at College of DuPage, visit To follow weather forests from COD’s Next Generation Weather Lab, go to

College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 28,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants nine associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.

Caption: (Front row) Brent Conklin, Paul Sirvatka, Kelly Swaney, Valerie Villarreal, Margo Andrews and Mike Zuranski; (back row) Matt Piechota, Victor Gensini, John Morinec and Nathaniel Mowbray.

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