U.S. and Coalition forces rely on Weather Airman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Making sure deployed units are able to complete their mission on a daily basis is a common contribution goal. The weather flight here at Al Udeid helps those units forecast their daily missions for a safe journey or return.

Doha, Qatar is home to variable weather patterns that can change suddenly or subtly depending on the time of year. Winter months bring fog and low visibility whereas summer months bring dust storms and winds higher than 50 knots on any given day. Airman deployed to the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather flight combat the ‘norm’ to ensure safety for all organizations.  

“With weather operations, we learn the basics to learn different typography and water masses that affect the weather,” said Tech. Sgt Vanessa Gonzales, 379th EOSS weather forecaster. “When you get to a new location, you really don’t know too much about it.”

Rotation after rotation of deployed forecasters have adapted to the environment and developed methods that have been instrumental to advising units. Gonzales said that a recent forecaster has come up with a model to help predict. This capability provides support for all U.S. Coalition personnel, weather watch advisory and weather warnings for all base personnel.

“The biggest challenge we have here is visibility,” said Capt. Kevin Eaton 379th EOSS. “We get dust and fog that pretty much comes out of nowhere.”

Eaton mentioned that weather operations here are limited on their equipment compared to stateside weather stations. The OSS is still available to advise units on current weather situations and lightning up to 200 miles. They mainly use a satellite, tactical radar and an airfield sensor. Normal stations have observations every 20 miles from each other, but here at Al Udeid, there is only one. Being able to forecast with very minimal tools keeps Eaton and his airman on their toes.

“This is a place where you don’t get a lot of information and have many tools. You learn a lot about weather that you wouldn’t in the United States,” said Eaton. “Learning different types of systems, being able to see the mission firsthand and the execution providing safe house for everybody back in the U.S, this job is very rewarding.”   

The Air Force is always looking for ways to improve processes and create less spending with the dwindling numbers of airman. Having the 379th EOSS weather flight on watch has aided in this journey with knowledge and the love for weather.