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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2014

Weather Flight observes Mother Nature

By Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Airmen from the 437th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight  participated in a three-day Manual Observing Weather exercise Dec. 10 - 12, 2014, at Joint Base Charleston S.C.

The Weather Flight, operated by seven Airmen, is responsible for providing weather data to commanders during the planning phases of C-17 Globemaster III missions world-wide, and every other month they participate in the exercise which is required by the Air Mobility Command.

The exercise requires weather forecasters to manually observe weather patterns and weather data, information usually generated automatically through advance weather satellites and radars.

"Manual Weather Observation exercises are a grand opportunity for the weather Airmen who are stationed here because it allows them to work on the skills required for a deployed environment," said Master Sgt. Jamie Britt, Weather Flight chief. "Instead of relying on technology, forecasters are forced to focus on the basics of weather such as wind speed, temperature and visibility. We get this information by going outside and actually seeing what clouds are in the area, estimating the cloud ceiling and if it's raining, we write that information down as well." 

The exercise is centered on the use of the Tactical Meteorological Observing System, which is what weather Airmen use to observe weather in a deployed environment. Through this device weather Airmen can gather information such as visibility, lightning detection, ambient pressure and dew point.

Weather information is crucial to pilots who rely on the data to land and take off C-17s, Britt said.

According to Staff Sgt. Maelyn Belmondo, Weather Flight Mission Services NCOIC, manual observation exercises are a great training opportunity because in Charleston, The Federal Aviation  Authority is in charge of generating weather data for the airfield.

"I like these types of exercises because they allow me to go outside and actually observe what the weather is doing," Belmondo said. "It is also a great opportunity to train the younger Airmen and give them hands-on training with equipment they will use on deployment."

The Weather Flight, which is normally manned from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., providing weather updates to pilots who are headed out on missions, went to 24-hour operations for the exercise.

"Overall the exercise was a great success," Britt said. "The team did an outstanding job and I'm proud of how well every member performed. How well would we perform our mission if our main system of gathering weather information failed? Outstanding!"