Monsoon season is upon us

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A monsoon thunderstorm heads towards the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 27, 2020. Monsoon season peaks in July and lasts until September. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
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The 355th Operational Support Squadron’s Weather Flight has been busy with this year’s monsoon season that peaks in July and ends roughly in September.

So far, the weather flight has issued over 196 watches, warnings and advisories for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., since monsoon season started.

“We have issued around 20 WWAs just this week,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Vannessa Williams, weather forecaster for the 355th Operational Support Squadron’s Weather Flight.

Monsoon season in Arizona is a meteorological event that causes severe weather and starts when the winds shift.

“The upper-level winds shift to a southeasterly direction and brings in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico causing air mass thunderstorms, flash floods and high winds,” said Williams. “These storms pop up fast and keeps us on our toes for timing.”

Williams starts her workday looking at visible satellite, radar, surface winds and the Global Air Land Weather Exploitation Model (GALWEM) to inform the more than 11,000 total force Airmen and 11 flying units on base of upcoming WWAs.

“There’s a lot that goes into forecasting,” said Williams. “This is my third monsoon season and timing is everything to inform our pilots and Airmen on base.”

Monsoon thunderstorms affect the 34 unique mission partners using the airfield, gates and roads on Davis-Monthan, and also the families that live on base.

With their 24/7 mission, the 355th weather forecasters personifies their squadron’s motto, “Guide those who fly,” and take their motto one step further by protecting the more than 46,000 people who work and live on base.

Senior Airman Vannessa Williams, weather forecaster for the 355th Operational Support Squadronís Weather Flight, uses a laser range finder to determine the distance of visibility markers at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 24, 2020. The visibility markers are used to help determine the airfield visibility that could be reduced by a monsoon thunderstorm. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
A monsoon thunderstorm approaches the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 27, 2020. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base operates the busiest single runway in Air Combat Command with 11 flying units and 152 aircraft. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group receives a “lightning within five nautical miles” warning at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on July 27, 2020. Personnel working outdoors are notified of the lightning warning in order to seek shelter for their safety. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., receives a “lightning within five nautical miles” warning on July 27, 2020, due to a monsoon thunderstorm. This warning protected the more than 46,000 people who work and live on base. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
The 355th Wing Air Traffic Control Tower receives a “lightning within five nautical miles” warning for a monsoon thunderstorm at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 27, 2020. The weather flight notifies more than 11,000 total force Airmen and 11 flying units on base of issued watches, warnings, and advisories. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
Senior Airman Vannessa Williams, weather forecaster for the 355th Operational Support Squadron’s Weather Flight, uses a kestrel weather meter to measure the wind speed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 24, 2020. The kestrel weather meter is used as a backup tool to measure temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
Senior Airman Vannessa Williams, weather forecaster for the 355th Operational Support Squadron’s Weather Flight, points to a meteogram showing the upper-level wind-shift at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 24, 2020. Monsoon season starts when the upper-level winds shift southeasterly. (Air Force photograph by 2nd Lt. Dorothy K. Sherwood)
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