Operational Weather Squadrons conduct weather operations in support of Total Force Army and Air Force operations covering a specified geographical region of the world. Weather officers and enlisted weather technicians operate around the clock to provide installation forecasts, aviation hazard decision aids, flight weather briefings, and weather advisories, watches and warnings.
These regional weather 'hubs' are responsible for producing base or post forecasts, developing weather decision aids, briefing aircrews, and issuing weather advisories, watches and warnings for all units in their geographical area. Using automated observing systems located at most major installations and communicating with base or post weather flights, the squadron is able to 'forecast' the weather for the entire area of responsibility from one central location.
The 26th Operational Weather Squadron, located at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., is responsible for producing and disseminating mission planning and execution weather analyses, forecasts, and briefings for Air Force, Army, Guard, Reserve, and combatant command forces operating at 133 installations/sites in a 13-state region of the southeastern United States. The 26th OWS also produces 11,000 weather warning/advisories, 32,000 terminal aerodrome forecasts, 31,000 graphical aviation hazard products and 30,000 flight weather briefings per year. In addition to its operational mission, the 26th OWS serves as the training center for 20 percent of all new Air Force enlisted forecasters and weather officers. After completing an 8-month initial skills course, new weather apprentices report to the 26th OWS to complete a 15-month upgrade training process.