It's always sunny on the weather side

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Mark Lazane
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This article is the third in a series to help prepare Team Hurlburt for the operational readiness inspection in February 2010. The goal of the series is to educate and inform the base populace of the roles and responsibilities of some of the hard-working support elements that make up a base whether deployed or at home station. 

The 1st Special Operations Wing has many roles in the current global engagement environment. 

The overarching role, however, is to efficiently and safely use airpower to provide assets for a combatant commander. 

Flying is what the Air Force does best. 

Those flights wouldn't get off the ground though without the dedicated work of the Hurlburt Field weather personnel. 

Weather technicians keep watch over the meteorological activity of the battle space. They brief outgoing crews on weather patterns that may affect mission completion and they keep the crews informed of any changes that occur. In addition, weather technicians also update weather watches, warnings and advisories in an effort to keep the entire base safe. 

"Many people don't know the skills we have," said Staff Sgt. Tori Temple 1st Special Operations Support Squadron weather technician. "We have a lot of special skills within our own little community." 

Technical Sgt. Chris Patterson, NCO-in-charge of weather team-Alpha, agrees. 

"When we go somewhere, we're our own maintenance guy, our own communications guy. We do it all ourselves." 

Working in special operations further tests the skills of weather technicians, said Sergeant Temple. 

"All of the equipment we use here is unique to special operations," he said. "Usually, a weather guy has one piece of equipment that they're able to operate from. We've got to know a whole lot more. We have to be able to be dropped in any where, any time, and have everything we need to begin operations immediately." 

In addition to the extra equipment, weather technicians often don't have a fellow technician with whom to work. 

"We're usually one-man deep, but to be honest, sometimes it's easier that way." Sergeant Temple said. "The more people you add, the harder it is to share the duties." 

Becoming a weather technician is no sunshine affair. Weather operators, part of the advanced deployment team, endure a nine-month forecasting school as part of their formal training. In addition, they must work a minimum of two years at an operational weather squadron in order to be properly certified to handle deployed weather duties. 

According to Sergeant Patterson, a weather technician will deploy every year to year-and-a-half, plus be on call to go anywhere there may be a mission. 

The weather technicians' skills were put to the test during the recent operational readiness exercise in October. Many of the flight crews faced inclement weather, including a tornado warning and several high-wind conditions. 

But, with expert guidance and warning from the weather technicians, the wing had a 100-percent aircraft generation rate throughout the exercise. 

"Being in this job, you really need to know weather on a global scale," Sgt. Temple said. "You just can't fly without weather [personnel]."