Forecasting the future of weather
Story by A1C Kristine Legate on 09/10/2019
DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. Operational Weather Squadrons and weather flights from various Major Commands throughout the Air Force are realigning terminal aerodrome forecast responsibilities. This realignment is scheduled to be completed by October 1, 2020.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 355th Operational Support Squadron Airfield Weather Operations flight officially took over TAF reports from the 25th Operational Weather Squadron after completing a five-week shadowing period, September 1, 2019.
A TAF report is a 30 hour forecast product, covering the five nautical mile bubble around a base and reports information related to aviation; such as wind direction and speed, cloud decks, precipitation, visibility and other observations used by flying organizations to determine whether they’ll be able to take off and land at an installation.
“Putting TAF reports in the hands of weather Airmen who are directly responsible for the missions at their respective bases allows us to have a bigger impact on our base’s mission operations,” said Tech. Sgt. Jesse L. Kay, 355 OSS noncommissioned officer in charge of Airfield Weather Operations.
The Airfield Weather Operations flight now produces TAF reports as well as airfield mission weather products. The airfield mission weather product is produced hourly and contains information not included in the TAF, for instance, flight levels, temperature deviation and illumination data.
The realignment of TAF responsibilities completes the transfer of weather support duties to the local level where mission and risk management decisions are made.
“Our primary customers are going to be anyone who falls under the 355th Wing and our tenant units; that includes A-10s, C-130s and HH-60s we support them all,” Kay said. “Taking over the TAF for our airfield allows us to have more horizontal consistency of our forecasts, we don’t have to worry about having two people in geographically separate locations trying to write the forecast for the same place.”
A TAF realignment is critical to implementing future changes and improvements to Air Force weather operations.
“They’re trying to change the focus of OWS to allow them to have more of a regional and global focus when it comes to their weather forecasting,” Kay said. “This realignment will make it more efficient to support missions more effectively.”
Prior to the realignment, the 25 OWS produced weather warning and advisories, graphical aviation hazard products and flight weather briefings, on top of TAFs, covering the entire western region of the United States and South America. In addition to its operational mission, the 25 OWS serves as a training center for 20 percent of all new Air Force enlisted forecasters and weather officers.
The realignment will also allow OWS personnel to fill a large number of deployment taskings.
“OWS is taking more expeditionary weather support from weather flights, meaning they’ll be deploying more people than they have in the past,” Kay said.
The Airfield Weather Operations flight will be able to better support the Wing in its 355th Dynamic Wing Concept by allowing the flight to focus on the aircraft, pilots and their missions.
“As more weather flights take over the responsibility for writing their own respective TAF reports, documents supporting the responsibilities of weather Airmen will eventually be updated to reflect changes in the Air Force weather career field,” Kay said.
In the future, OWSs will focus on developing a new and improved set of global and regional weather products and services to the support the full spectrum of Multi-Domain Department of Defense missions.