F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
From midnight Monday morning to the final moments of Friday night, a continuously watching team provides a simple but impactful mission. The 90th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight provides direction for operating conditions over the Mighty Ninety’s 9,600 square mile area of responsibility that spans across three states..
The weather flight gathers data on precipitation, wind condition, temperature, visibility and pressure for all operating areas for the wing. This data is used to determine the over 40 weather watches, warnings and advisories that dictate if duties can be safely performed.
“Instead of worrying about this small little area on the map, we have to multitask between multiple sections in very different ways,” said Tech. Sgt. Adrian Huges, 90 OSS NCOIC of airfield operations. “That normal five-mile local area is increased tenfold for us to ensure where Airmen can safely operate.”
The support provided by the weather team is prioritized into four groups. The data they provide supports operations for Airmen of the missile complex, Air Force and Army helicopter flights, as well as base personnel. This is accomplished using detection systems at the operating locations as well as the data gathered locally from the National Weather Service.
“Comparing our forecast to the city’s makes sure we're giving the advisory to all of the customers, whether they're civilians or military,” said Huges. “With them covering more than just Cheyenne, it gives us a unified front for both the city of Cheyenne and the base and all the missile fields.”
The collection of data through these various methods doesn’t determine the final product, however. The flight’s weather forecasters interpret current and future data to make a forecast as accurate as possible.
“When we start forecasting, it’s data that is around four days out, so it’s like drawing with a dull pencil,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Hunter, 90 OSS Weather Flight chief. “As we move closer to the projected forecast, it’s like sharpening our pencil, giving us the ability to provide a more detailed forecast of the weather.”
Even with their long hours and prior predictions, the flight continues its mission while officially off-duty. The flight always has forecasters on-call, regularly checking new readings.
“Whether it’s rain, sleet, snow or shine; we're here watching and waiting,” said 1st Lt. Noah Buchman, 90 OSS Weather Flight commander. “With the regional diversity, you could have a blizzard happening up here in Wyoming, but you could have severe thunderstorms occurring in Nebraska. That’s why we are here, because we could see almost all forms of weather happening at the same time, all in one day.”