ST. CLOUD -- The meteorology department at St. Cloud State University is very unique. It is the only meteorology program at any school in Minnesota. Graduates of the program are working for private companies, the National Weather Service, and television stations all across the country.

Professor Tony Hansen says the advances in weather forecasting have come a long way since the program began back in the late 1980s.

We had a couple of winter storms last year that were forecast five days in advance.  Exactly where it is going to go and exactly how much snow it is going to produce those are harder questions but it's not bad and that's because the tools we have are so much better.

Hansen says it does get frustrating when he hears the long-running joke about weathermen being wrong all the time because he says the reality is they are actually pretty accurate.

He does say thunderstorms during the summer and fall are much harder to predict than the snowstorms in the winter.

There always has been and probably always will be an interest in the weather, especially in places like here in the Midwest where the weather is changing all the time. The weather can also play a role in a wide variety of businesses. Hansen says there has been a huge growth in weather forecasting in the private sector.

There are companies that do weather-related stuff for other companies.  Back in the financial crisis, there was a little bit of a downturn in the weather business also, but then customers came back because they realized the weather did have an economic impact on their activities.

This by the way is National Earth Sciences Week.

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