Weather techs earn base StormReady certification

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --

Hurricanes, tornadoes, torrential downpours: the Florida panhandle experiences it all. How does Team Hurlburt make sure severe weather doesn’t stop the mission?

The 23rd Special Operations Weather Squadron weather flight earned the base a StormReady certification from the National Weather Service after several technicians went through a course in Mobile, Alabama, aligning their training and procedures with almost 2,700 other weather organizations across the nation.

“It’s about preparing for the community’s vulnerability to extreme weather and water events,” said Capt. Robert Curry, the weather flight commander with the 23rd SOWS. “StormReady communities have the improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before and during severe-weather events.”

According to the NWS, America is the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. The StormReady program aims to arm communities throughout the country with a standardized set of skills and communication abilities that can help mitigate the chaos and damage inflicted by severe weather.

“The understanding is that we’re all on the same playing field when it comes to being able to handle any weather that comes our way,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Veilleux, the NCO in charge of airfield weather operations with the 23rd SOWS. “We’re all trained and able to provide good, accurate information in a timely manner, making sure everybody’s prepared in case of inclement weather.”

Some of the requirements the base had to meet to earn the certification included having a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, having a locally-created system to monitor weather conditions, and the consistent promotion of the importance of public readiness.

“Being prepared is vital, and having a plan and being able to disseminate information in a timely manner could save lives,” said Veilleux. “With the array of different kinds of inclement weather that we get, being prepared is the key.”

The weather flight’s warnings are one of the pillars that keeps Team Hurlburt safe during extreme weather, but they also play a crucial role in keeping the base’s aircraft and infrastructure safe.

In the case of an extreme storm like a hurricane, they have to monitor it and provide the operations side of the team with information required for decision-making about evacuating aircraft, such as how much of a window they’ll have to get the birds off the ground, and how difficult the weather will make all of that, said Senior Airman Anh Bui, a weather journeyman from the 23rd SOWS.

Hurlburt Field is now included as one of more than 100 military installations to obtain StormReady certification.

For more information on the StormReady program and to see other communities with the certification, please visit http://www.weather.gov/stormready/communities.