The UW Dawgcast

About Us


On the left: Instructor Shannon O’Donnell smiles as student Matthew Charchenko coordinates weather graphics while his peer Rachael Fewkes practices on the green wall. TV stations have crews to handle filming and production, but in The UW Dawgcast, everyone takes those roles as well. (Photo: University of Washington)

On the right: The Husky Hall of Fame set up by instructor Shannon O’Donnell includes UW alumni, from both departments of atmospheric sciences and communication, who have successful careers in the broadcast industry. The oldest alumnus in the Hall of Fame graduated in 1968 while the most recent graduated in 2018. (Photo: Claire Anderson)

The UW Dawgcast is made possible by the course ATM S 493: Media & Meteorology. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences surveyed its students over the past few years and found that they yearned for a class teaching weather communication. In Winter 2020, the highly demanded class made its academic debut, and The UW Dawgcast was born.

ATM S 493 is the first broadcast meteorology class offered in the West Coast. With it, the University of Washington joins Pennsylvania State University and Mississippi State University as schools that offer broadcast meteorology instruction.

The class is taught mainly by KOMO 4 Chief Meteorologist Shannon O’Donnell in collaboration with Prof. Cliff Mass. With 20 years of on-air experience, O’Donnell prioritizes immersive learning and gives her students many opportunities inside and outside the classroom to gain real-world experience in broadcast and in meteorology.

Inside the mini-TV-studio classroom, students work with each other to create a forecast and blog it, practice on the green wall, and use professional-grade equipment to create industry-standard weather graphics that are broadcasted by social media to the UW community. Students come from many majors and are taught basic meteorology. (For more information, here is the class website.) Local meteorologists from private and public sectors as well as popular local weather enthusiasts come in and talk with students about their careers and give insight on the industry. Outside the classroom, students voluntarily go on field trips to the KOMO-TV station and the National Weather Service office to name a couple places. Students sign up thinking they’ll only learn about broadcast meteorology, but they also end up learning skills to use in life.

Unfortunately, ATM S 493 is only offered during winter quarter, BUT The UW Dawgcast is also a club and all majors are welcome to join! If it’s too late for you to enroll in the class, click here to join our year-round club. Meet cool people and forecast cool weather!