4th OSS Weather Flight keeps eyes in the sky over SJAFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Barrera

The 4th Operations Support Squadron weather flight provides a continual eye in the sky, aiding the 4th Fighter Wing to stay ahead of environmental conditions. As the majority of the installation recovers at the end of each duty day, designated standby teams monitor the weather and provide support to the airfield and monitor hazardous weather approaching the region.

“We work with all four fighter squadrons on a daily basis but also provide information as requested from around the base,” said Senior Airman Schmuel Rottman, 4th OSS weather journeyman. “Directly or indirectly, we support the entire base populace.”

Their office consists of 18 members with two primary sections, mission and airfield operations.

The mission operations section provides flight weather briefings to pilots for their requested airspace and mission. Forecasters are embedded within each of the four fighter squadrons to provide briefs and meteorology to each sortie. The forecasts are specifically tailored for the fighter squadrons so that the information is relevant to the aircrew members. These forecasts include takeoff and landing conditions and the weather in the Mission Operation Area which includes cloud coverage with base heights, turbulence, icing and locations of thunderstorms.

“Weather is important, it gives us the ability to know what we are flying into and gives us the ability to change our access of attack to accomplish our mission,” said Capt. Jonathan Gerac, 334th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot. "Hazards like turbulence, icing and thunderstorms effect refueling and what kind of munitions can be dropped. Ceilings over certain military operation areas also limit what sort of missions can be conducted.”

The airfield operations section issues Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts, hourly weather observations and all required watches, warnings and advisories.

“The purpose of weather watches, warnings and advisories is to provide different base agencies and personnel with an advanced notice of a particular weather event in order for them to take actions to protect people and equipment,” said Rottman. “Base operations is typically tied primarily to resource protections.”

In order to forecast the weather for these operations, weather flight uses multiple tools. Some of the real-time data from FMQ-19 base weather sensor, upstream METARS weather operations, upper air analysis and soundings, radar, satellite and various predictive models.

The collected data allows accurate weather prediction within a 24-48 hour time period.

“Our forecasts are more precise versus that of a news weatherman,” Rottman said. “We provide more definitive forecasts for a smaller, specific location versus providing percentages over a large area.”

While most people might only think about the weather when they see a dark cloud in the sky, the Airmen at weather flight know bad weather conditions can lead to life or death situations. Staying vigilant, they continuously monitor the skies keeping track of every change enabling the 4 FW to be prepared for anything.