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ADAB Weather Forecasters Predict the Unpredictable

  • Published
  • By MSgt Dan Heaton
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

Two Al Dhafra Air Base Airmen spend their days trying to predict the unpredictable. They are weather forecasters with the 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron.

Senior Airmen Ian Tait and Dagan Wise-Herring are part of a six-person crew that provides round-the-clock weather forecasting at Al Dhafra, giving go/no-go recommendations to flight crews, looking for thunderstorms across the 21-nation U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility and provide a “heads-up” on potential severe weather that could impact the base.

“Being a weather forecaster means you are trying to predict something that doesn’t care what you know, doesn’t care if you are the greatest forecaster in the world,” said Tait, who is forward deployed from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. “The weather does what it wants. And our challenge is trying to see into the future and know what that will be.”

Wise-Herring is forward deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. He said having worked there has been helpful to his assignment at ADAB.

“In Hawaii, you are looking at a region with a lot of open ocean, where there are no stations collecting data,” he said. “There are some similar conditions here, where our aircraft are operating over the Arabian Gulf and we have the same limits on data collection. Working at Hickam, the experience there has actually been helpful here a few times.”

Both Airmen said since their home stations serve as hub sites for weather collecting, they were part of larger organizations.

“Here (at ADAB), we are much more connected to the mission,” Wise-Herring said. “We are able to build rapport with the pilots because we see them almost every day and we hear them when they take-off.”

While weather conditions at ADAB itself may see like it varies relatively little from day to day, the forecasters aren’t just concerned with local conditions. Mission planners are often seeking forecasts on what the weather will be like at certain destinations and along the path to that destination. The local forecasters pull data from across the region to make their predictions.

“Knowing that we are having a direct impact on operations – that’s a good feeling,” Wise-Herring said.

The Airmen said ultimately, their forecasts are used to protect people and aircraft – asset protection, they call it – by allowing the base populace to know what to expect from the elements.

“I like to be right,” Tait said. “When you put together a forecast and you know you got it right, that’s a good feeling.”

Tait is a native of Portland, Maine. Wise-Herring is a native of Port Isabel, Texas.