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Kandahar weather flight forecasters keep skies safe

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Divine Cox
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Countless factors contribute to the outcome of a mission, including something as seemingly simple as the weather. It’s the job of weather specialists of the 451st Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron to keep a constant watch over the forecast and conditions that can affect the safety of aircrews at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Airmen from the 451st EOSS weather flight work around the clock to ensure aircrews have the most current weather data upon arrival or departure.

“Here at KAF, we are in charge of resource protection as well as aviation asset protection for Kandahar and the train, advise and assist[mission],” said Staff Sgt. Tim Everhard, 451st EOSS weather forecaster craftsman. “We provide weather support for all of Southern Afghanistan and any assets that are here as well as transients.”

The small four-man shop employ an array of sophisticated instruments to pass along information, such as air temperature, air pressure and the altitude of clouds over the airfield, to aircrew members.

“When I come into work, I look at the long range forecast,” said Everhard. “I look at the current weather, and then forecast the weather for five days out.

I also provide dash-ones, which are the weather briefs we provide to the pilots that are going outside of the Afghanistan area. And the last thing we do is a mission weather product, which is done every eight hours. It tells you take-off and land data and what hazards are in the area.”

These experts utilize the latest technology to predict weather patterns, prepare forecasts and communicate weather information to commanders and pilots so that every mission goes as planned; but being deployed in an austere environment, it can be difficult relying on satellite data to help accurately forecast the weather.

“The most challenging aspect about our job here is the weather. The weather can change at any given moment here and trying to forecast for what’s going on is a constant challenge,” said Maj. William Henning, 451st EOSS weather flight commander. “Our satellite data is not reliable because it updates every 30 minutes, so we are very busy getting real-time visual data.”

According to Henning, every hour they go out and take manual observations of the conditions, which includes temperature, dew point, cloud cover and visibility.

“The weather flight is important because without the weather products we provide, the pilots can’t fly,” said Everhard. “It’s very difficult to fly without knowing the weather. The pilots need accurate information and we provide that for them. They could probably call in to other weather agencies, but nothing gives you better data then boots on the ground; Right-now data from us physically being here.”

Henning said that his priority is to make sure they are providing the most accurate and up-to-date weather products to their customers.

“The Airmen of the weather flight provide 24/7 support to the airfield,” said Henning. “No aircraft can take off without a weather brief. The weather can change very quickly, so it’s a constant priority to stay ahead of the game to make sure we are providing the best weather support that we can for continued mission success for the area of responsibility.”