Tinker Weather Flight uses deployment gear, skills to cover scheduled maintenance

  • Published
  • By Paul Shirk
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 72nd Operations Support Squadron’s Weather Flight put their deployable weather equipment and skills to the test during a scheduled system outage.

The flight installed a tactical meteorological observation system, allowing them to monitor conditions at Tinker Air Force Base while the base’s permanent sensors underwent a server upgrade.

“Accurate weather information is imperative to military operations around the world, and flying operations are especially sensitive to weather effects,” said Capt. Michael Snyder, 72nd OSS Weather Flight commander.

The tactical meteorological observation system, known as a TMQ-53, is a portable, automated weather station that takes observations enabling flying missions around the world.

“TMQ-53s are used at many deployed locations overseas,” Snyder said. “These forward operating locations often are not equipped with permanent weather sensors, but an expeditionary team equipped with a TMQ-53 can quickly stand-up a TMQ-53 for continuous, automated weather observation to fill that capability gap. And when it is time to leave, the sensor can be packed up and make the move as well.”

The data the system produces can be utilized by a weather observer locally or can be uploaded to the Air Force Weather community using satellite communications. It measures parameters such as temperature, wind direction and speed, humidity, visibility, cloud height, lightning strikes and other data that flyers need to be able to safely take off and land.

“Weather operations in-garrison are primarily a matter of safety,” Snyder said. “Flight crews are required to get a weather briefing prior to missions, and this is the forecasters’ opportunity to alert the pilots to weather hazards that will affect the mission. Forecasters provide information about turbulence, icing, thunderstorms and more along the flight path, air refueling tracks, operations areas and runways.”

Snyder added that weather operations also boost operator effectiveness through missions planning weather forecasts days ahead of operations.

“Operators can take advantage of these forecasts by planning routes and locations where the weather is likely to be favorable,” he said. “This results in fewer cancelled, delayed or diverted missions due to weather.”