305th Weather Airmen partner with National Weather Service

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Carrie Volpe
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
Airmen from the 305th Operations Support Squadron weather flight partnered with local civilian forecasters to highlight their unique skill set during an open house event hosted by the National Weather Service Sept. 22, 2014, in Mount Holly, N.J.

Approximately 400 people from surrounding communities attended the open house and witnessed first-hand how 305th Airmen work closely with NWS forecasters to help support the Joint Base mission by sharing weather data, ideas and forecast discussions.

"As an Air Force meteorologist and devout 'weather geek', I believe it is very important to reach out to our civilian meteorologist counterparts, wherever we are," said Master Sgt. Brandon Healy, 305th OSS weather flight chief and Buffalo, N.Y. native. "Building a strong relationship with the NWS goes directly to that point."

The 305th OSS weather team, made up of four Airmen and one civilian, assembled tactical weather equipment and answered questions from the public as part of the NWS exhibit.

"All of the weather team participated this year," said Healy. "We set up a TMQ-53, which is a stand-alone automated weather observing system, and also displayed images to show how we use basic weather tools, including data from the TMQ-53 and radar, to support the warfighter in deployed locations world-wide."

On a daily basis, the weather flight works with the 15th Operational Weather Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. to support the 305th Air Mobility Wing, 87th Air Base Wing and the Joint Base by providing fast and accurate weather observations, pilot and staff briefings, forecasts and weather warnings.  The NWS provides similar support to the public, who is their primary customer, but they also develop daily forecast products that are beneficial to all meteorologists.

"Weather is a joint effort from all agencies," said Staff Sgt. Jerrod Smith, NCOIC, airfield support function and native of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.  "I use NWS products along with Air Force products every day to give the best forecasts possible. NWS forecasters have more years of schooling and experience in the local weather patterns than I do; having that knowledge one click away is an invaluable asset."

The annual open house allows the public and other partner agencies to learn about what goes on behind closed doors at the NWS and to see how their tax dollars are spent.  People from all walks of life and ages were in attendance this year.

"While the open house is not specifically a 'career day,' it does attract many students who have an interest in weather," said Larry Nierenberg, a NWS meteorologist and open house coordinator. "The presence of the weather flight gives [the public] the opportunity to see first-hand another potential career opportunity.  It also allows the [Airmen] to meet some members of the local community, much like it does for us."

The NWS in Mount Holly has been hosting an open house since 1996 and the weather flight has participated in it three times since 2011. This close relationship not only allows the community to learn more about the NWS, but affords them the rare opportunity to interact with military forecasters. 

"I enjoy the NWS open house because it gives us a chance to show the local community another side of the military," said Smith. "When people hear 'Air Force' they think pilots and planes, but forget about the support it takes to keep the planes in the air. I enjoyed showing kids the equipment; it makes you feel good about what you're doing to see a child get so excited about your day to day job."

The relationship between the Joint Base and the surrounding community is an important one, and the 305th weather flight and Mount Holly NWS are demonstrating just that.

"The meteorological community is quite small, so it's always good to meet fellow meteorologists and have contacts and partners in the field, especially local ones," said Nierenberg.  "Quite honestly, it is our honor and privilege to have them attend!"