Senior Airman Brett Reim, right, a weather technician, points out radar weather returns to Capt. Toni Merhar, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot July 9, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Reim and Merhar are members with the 436th Operations Support Squadron. The weather flight uses satellite radar imagery to inform aircrew and base personnel of current weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)
Precipitation is displayed on the Next-Generation Radar monitor, or NEXRAD, located in the 436th Operations Support Squadron weather flight July 9, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. NEXRAD is a network of Doppler weather radars which detects precipitation and wind, including potentially severe thunderstorms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)
Master Sgt. Derrell Lankford, NCO in charge of the 436th Operations Support weather flight, checks current weather conditions July 9, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Lankford used a hand-held pocket weather tracker to record temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and dew point. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)
by Airman 1st Class Kathryn Stilwell
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
7/10/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The 436th Operations Support Squadron's weather flight does everything from brief the wing commander on a daily basis to provide vital information to various organizations, such as the air traffic control tower and command post. The topic of discussion: the weather.
Although caddy-cornered in a modest office within base operations, the service members who forecast the weather impart essential information to agencies throughout the wing. Their services impact everyone.
"A lot of the model data we actually use to forecast is out of the 15th Operational Weather Squadron based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. We work with them to put out warnings, so there's actually a forecaster at Scott looking at the same thing we are at the same time." said Master Sgt. Derrell Lankford, NCO in charge of the 436th Operations Support Squadron's weather flight.
The weather flight also produces a five-day chart for their briefings and two-day planning for pilots. The chart is color coded because different jobs are affected by different weather patterns. For instance, for operations and personnel, winds do not become significant until they reach 25 knots per hour while maintainers are cautioned at 5 knots. On the other hand, something like lightning stops everything.
"What we want to try and do is provide everybody a heads up to any significant weather events," said Lankford.
Their main focus is the four seasons: in the spring time, there are thunderstorms, so lightning may become an issue.
During the summer there are fewer thunderstorms, and more heat advisories.
The fall brings the cold weather such as icing, which can become a problem for both aircraft and vehicles.
Winter may bring heavy snowfall which significantly impacts the runway.
And unfortunately with weather, there's not a lot to look forward to in the winter with Dover's track record of snowfall.
Overall, the weather flight is responsible for producing and disseminating mission planning and execution weather analyses, forecasts, and briefings for Air Force, Army, Guard and Reserve forces operating around the world providing installation commanders advanced warning of severe weather to protect personnel, weapon systems and infrastructure.