Forecasting for mission success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Roy Lynch
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air Force weather technicians deliver environmental information, products and services anywhere in the world. They impact decision superiority by enhancing predictive battle space awareness, enabling commanders at all levels to anticipate and exploit the battle space environment, from the mud to the sun.

In the Air Force, a weather forecaster forecasts at a far more specific level than the typical TV meteorologist, said Capt. Jon Schiefelbein, the 8th Operation Support Squadron weather flight commander at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.

"The weather flight is also involved in resource protection of the base," he said. "We disseminate warnings and advisories to the base. These include lightning, high winds and snow."

Weather forecasters use fixed and deployable meteorological sensors to measure and evaluate atmospheric and space weather conditions.

"Here, at Kunsan (AB), we utilize the FMQ-19 and the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler," said Tech. Sgt. Steven Fisher, the 8th OSS airfield services element NCO in charge.

An FMQ-19 accurately samples, measures and reports: temperature, wind speed and direction, visibility, cloud base height and amount of coverage, pressure, liquid equivalent precipitation accumulation, and ice accretion during freezing precipitation.

These measurements are processed to create observations that comply with reporting standards and protocols defined in the Federal Meteorological Handbook, the World Meteorological Organization, the Federal Aviation Administration, National Weather Service and military reporting standards.

The Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler, more commonly called the Doppler radar, detects precipitation and atmospheric movement or wind. It returns data which, when processed, can be displayed in a mosaic map which shows patterns of precipitation and its movement.

Weather forecasters adapt weather resources to meet mission requirements and manage weather operations.

"The atmosphere is where aircraft operate," Captain Schiefelbein said. "This makes knowledge of the current state of the atmosphere critical."