Weather team protects Moody

  • Published
  • By Airman Cade Ellis
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

There are a few things that could ground aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force, and inclement weather conditions is one of them.

Luckily, the Air Force has found a way to protect themselves from the possibility of harm during a potential weather crisis.

The skilled professionals of the 23rd Operations Support Squadron weather flight are responsible for providing crucial weather information to Team Moody to ensure the safety of personnel and success of both operations and maintenance.

“Weather affects every person and every mission on this installation,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Lanzetta, 23rd OSS airfield NCO in charge. “Depending on the mission, weather can play a significant role in the success or failure of the mission. From a safety perspective, by monitoring and providing forecasts we play a critical role in resource protection and everyday operations (because weather) affects every person on this base.”

The 18-member flight is responsible for utilizing technology to predict weather patterns, prepare forecasts and communicate weather information to every person on the installation.

“All sorties that are generated are required to have a flight plan prior to take off which includes a dash one or weather brief,” Lanzetta said. “We provide that to ensure pilots have an accurate weather brief so they can make informed decisions.

“From clouds blocking a target to ice affecting the lift – when it comes to weather, there's a lot of factors at play,” Lanzetta continued.

It all depends on what the mission is, but forecasting the weather is integral in day-to-day operations and plays a role in helping Airmen at all levels make informed decisions.

“It’s vastly important for a commander to know the weather forecast, so we can understand the impact the weather will have on our flying operations,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Keilen, 23rd Fighter Group deputy commander and A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot. “A pilot has to rely on the crucial information found in weather forecasts to avoid unnecessary hazardous conditions. Weather specialists help us navigate the constantly changing conditions and maximize our mission in both training and combat environments.”

Weather is unpredictable and can change on a dime - sometimes multiple times a day. So the weather flight is charged with delivering accurate and relevant weather data around the clock, which requires them to be constantly monitoring the atmosphere when aircraft are flying or the airfield is open.

“We are constantly monitoring -- we produce warnings, watches and advisories which are all tailored from our around the clock observation,” Lanzetta said. “There are days where we put out 24 hourly observations in a day because the weather is gorgeous and there are days where we put out 90 because the weather is bad. We use our equipment, like the sensors we have established up near the field to help supplement our human capabilities. But sometimes when the conditions are currently changing, we're adapting and putting out observations every 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes even more frequently, depending on the circumstances.”

Conditions like thunderstorms, damaging winds and even hurricanes have the potential to cause severe impacts to and can affect the safety of Airmen, degrade communications and even stop missions.

“In most instances where Moody Air Force Base would experience severe weather, it isn't a surprise, like we see it coming from days out,” Lanzetta said. “We’re looking for specific markers in the atmosphere that indicate severe weather is possible. So, it's about possibility and probability. We watch it and observe it. And we basically stack up the chips on whether it's more probable or less probable. With that information, we help commanders decide to hang aircraft or take these aircraft and send them to a different base. If the conditions are severe enough to exist - we take note of it, watch the atmosphere, observe the trends, and tell people it's coming.”

In the event of an emergency, the weather team is always prepared to get accurate and important information out to keep everyone on the installation safe. Whether for a commander, pilot, or Airman, weather information will always be in reach.

“Weather literally affects every single person in different ways,” Lanzetta said “If it isn't tied to the mission it’s tied to the person.”