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March 2000

Nelson vs. Nelson: Middle-school forecaster wins out

Elizabeth Nelson (left, from Monarch K-8 School in Louisville), was one of two eighth graders who bested Denver meteorologist Mike Nelson (upper right, KUSA-TV, no relation to Elizabeth) in a four-day, on-line forecasting contest sponsored by UCAR and its Web Weather for Kids partners. Elizabeth was the top scorer in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), coming in with 41 error points vs. Nelson's 44. Jarret Winkelman (right, from Ranch View Middle School, Highlands Ranch) was the champion contestant from outside BVSD, and the lowest overall scorer, with 40 error points. Close behind was sixth grader Erika Davis (Olander Elementary School, Fort Collins), with 41 points. The contest drew over 160 participants from Colorado, Montana, Connecticut, and Michigan.

Jarret's success was relayed to the nation through a CBS radio report. "My grandpa was a meteorologist with the armed forces," Jarret told Staff Notes Monthly. "I have always enjoyed watching clouds and discussing tornadoes and lightning with him." Mike Nelson said, "I hope the kids had a good time and they [now] have an appreciation for the difficulties of forecasting the weather, especially in Colorado."

Twelve contestants received autographed copies of Jack Williams's USA TODAY Weather Book; UCAR T-shirts, waist packs, and coffee mugs; and, courtesy KUSA, Mike Nelson's Colorado Weather Book. Web Weather for Kids and its forecast competition were created with CU's Science Discovery program and BVSD.

Bob Henson

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall