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August 8, 2014

56th Operations Support Squadron forecasts for Luke AFB

Senior Airman MARCY COPELAND
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Ever curious where that AtHoc notice that flies across the computer screen alerting of weather warnings and when heat index changes comes from?

Credit the people at the 56th Operations Support Squadron weather forecasting and warning services. Their mission is to observe and provide weather forecasts and severe weather threats to more than 30 squadrons and the installation commander, and protect military interests, mission and property ranging in the millions of dollars.

“The weather intelligence that key leadership receives from us can either make or break a mission,” said Master Sgt. Michael Miller, 56th OSS mission weather element NCO-in-charge. “It can postpone, delay or cancel a mission. When I predict a correct forecast and the mission goes as scheduled, there is a great sense of accomplishment. It’s always a good feeling when the mission gets done.”

As easy as it is to summarize what the meteorologists and weather technicians do, the detailed amount of work to be done just to forecast the possibility of a storm striking the base entails knowledge about storm patterns, computer based model systems and weather forecasting equipment.

Some squadrons have to work around the clock tracking weather and running forecast simulations to determine how a particular storm cell may behave. Luke’s weather squadron is not a 24-hour operation since the mission is to train the world’s best fighter pilots, and that usually occurs during the day.

The responsibility of Luke’s weather forecasting and warning services is to monitor any terrestrial weather phenomenon and to provide advanced warnings. In the event of damaging, destructive storms that contain the potential for lightning, hail, damaging winds, or the infamous monsoon dust storms, the 56th OSS weather technicians send out AtHoc notices to alert base personnel of the hazards, potentially saving lives.

“Weather is something that affects you,” said Senior Airman Alexander Lopez, 56th OSS weather forecast technician. “It’s your job. It’s something you are seeing and feeling as it occurs. When dealing with people’s lives and military resources, such as fighter jets, just knowing you got those jets down safely and in time, is a feeling of satisfaction that is hard to describe. Our forecasts can save lives by keeping jets and Airmen out of harm’s way.”




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