May 3, 2012

25th OWS keeps heads in the clouds

Senior Airman Brittany Dowdle
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 25th Operational Weather Squadrons is one of three weather squadrons who forecast weather in the United States.

After completing a seven-month technical training course at Keesler AFB, Miss., Airmen come to the 25th OWS for two years of on-the-job training before going to their individual Weather Flights and Detachments to support Army and Air Force operations. In their two years here, Airmen will spend three months in the classroom and on the operations floor for hands-on training. After completion of the training, personnel begin providing operational forecasts for the western part of the United States.

The 25th OWS is divided into three operational flights, the North flight, the Central flight, and the South flight, all with different reigns of responsibility.

The North flight is responsible for 24 Department of Defense locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. The Central flight is responsible for 28 DoD locations in northern California, Nevada, and Colorado. The South flight is responsible for 31 DoD locations in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas.

“In the western U.S., forecasters are very important because of all the complex terrain features that can limit operations especially during the Southwest monsoon season,” said Senior Airmen Phillip Shumaker, 25th OWS shift supervisor. “The mountainous and intricate terrain can act as a trigger for severe thunderstorms, create turbulence, and even channel severe winds.”

The 25th OWS is responsible for the flight weather briefings, COMUS weather graphics, installation forecasts, and weather watches, warnings and advisories (WWAs) for the locations under their directives.

“While an important part of our duty is to create forecasts, our primary responsibility is to issue watches, warnings, and advisories for significant weather phenomena,” Shumaker said. “More specifically, WWAs are issued to protect the personnel and assets at each location.”

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