Holloman weather flight face off with Mother Nature

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Terri Barriere
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office
With an advertised 364 days of sunshine a year, it would seem the friendliest place on earth is a meteorologists' dream come true; however, members of the 49th Operations Support Squadron Weather flight know it's not all clear skies and sunny days when it comes to forecasting the weather here. 

The 11 members of the 49th Weather Flight provide up to date weather forecasts for the 49th Fighter Wing and tenant units daily. 

According to Maj. Lee Price, 49th OSS Weather Flight commander, forecasting the weather is not as easy as walking outside and looking at the clouds. 

"We support the base by taking forecasts expertise and tailoring the forecasts to the mission of our customers," he said. "We not only forecast the weather, but we know how to tailor the reports to give them the information they need to make informed decisions and use the weather to their advantage." 

Pilots rely on the information provided by the Weather Flight to plan their routes and missions rather than wasting time going places they will be unable to fly due to the weather Major Price said. 

Holloman's Weather Flight works with a larger weather squadron out of Davis-Monthan to receive large scale forecast information such as weather watches and warnings. Davis-Monthan is one of four weather squadrons Air Force wide. 

"Davis-Monthan forecasts for the entire western part of the country," the major said. "We take DMs information and fine tune it for the units on base. We make it more specific to the Stealth's airframe. Here we really strive for to be experts on what kind of weather impacts the Stealth." 

In addition to Davis-Monthan forecasts, the meteorologists also rely heavily on technical support. 

"We are very much reliant on computers," said Major Price. 

However, they aren't totally handicapped without computers and according to the major, are still able to use hand held devices such as Kestrels to get digital readouts of the wind, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity. He said this device is also helpful when they are deployed to bare bases. 

Both home and deployed, the major said his favorite part about his job is the excitement of uncertainty. 

"My job is interesting day to day because weather is different day to day, week to week," he said. "You always have something exciting to look forward to, you can't schedule it, and when you do get the forecast right it's nice to know you helped someone plan properly and did your part to support the mission." 

Of course even with technology, weather forecasters can never be 100 percent accurate all the time. 

"My favorite part of the job is trying to outguess Mother Nature," Tech. Sgt. John Brody, 49th OSS Weather Flight, jokes. 

However, Major Price insists predicting the weather is certainly a lot more scientific than a random guess. 

"It's definitely not guessing," he said. "There is a lot of physics and chemistry involved in meteorology. We always know our forecast can become wrong so we keep our eye out and try to update it throughout the day ahead of time if we know it if will become wrong later. We can't win or do better when it comes to the weather, but we can tell you what's going to happen. Even if we have a perfect forecast it's still a tie at best." 

One forecast their making that's sure to be accurate this summer however, is heat--and a lot of it. And with extra added emphasis on safety during the 101 critical days of summer, they urge extra caution be used not only when driving or performing outdoor sports but in dealing with the weather as well. 

"Heat is a major concern here," said Sergeant Brody. "Stay hydrated, use sunscreen and heed all weather watches and warnings."