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NEWS | Oct. 22, 2014

Weathering the storm: Langley Airmen provide weather services to Fort Eustis

By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For 1st Operations Support Squadron personnel base at Fort Eustis, the winter and hurricane seasons are their busiest time-of-year. Although some may dislike the idea of dealing with snow, the team embraces this time of year.

The weather section's primary at the Army installation is to report accurate weather forecasts to the installation personnel, including the pilots who fly aircraft in and out of Felker Army Airfield.

Although this section is located about 20 miles away from their home station, the personnel work in unison with their parent squadron located at Langley Air Force Base to ensure cohesiveness.

"We currently have a four-man team [at Fort Eustis]," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Carla Tatum, 1st OSS weather flight section chief. "We take turns working on the different installations and there are always people at Langley that are certified for both, just in case those on the team are unavailable."

Members of the Eustis team arrive at the office at 5 a.m. to begin their morning routine of preparing the local area forecast and Pentagon weather reports for the pilots, getting their products out by 7 a.m.

"We often work with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command flight detachment," said Tatum of the mission at Fort Eustis. "They are flying almost daily, so we have a special focus for their travels."

Once pilots receive their forecasts, the flight focuses on their seven-day product, which breaks down the week's weather for the base's school-house leadership.

"Fort Eustis has a lot of students; their leadership needs to know the weather ahead of time so they can plan accordingly," said Tatum. "It will give them time to arrange buses or other sorts of transportation if there is severe weather."

Fort Eustis is home to more than just helicopters and students; it also houses the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and Third Port, home to the brigade's fleet of ships.

Third Port relies on the weather reports just as much as the helicopters might as the report contains wind reports, which indicate if it is safe to sail.

When reporting severe weather to the base populace, the flight gathers all of the facts and forecasts for incoming storms and compiles them to send to the Emergency Operations Center on post, who then distributes them out to the various units.

Staying on top of the weather at all times to keep customers informed is very important, Tatum said.

"We try to be as proactive as we can and communicate what we know to those who need to know," said Tatum. "Whenever you are working with another branch [of service], it is important to kind of nurture the difference, nurture the relationship and communicate to let them know you are here to work with them."

No matter the weather or the season, this team of four Airmen said they are ready to communicate weather conditions to their Army partners.

"Accurate weather forecasting is pivotal to the mission planning and execution of aviation operations," said John Musser, Felker Army Airfield manager. "Weather can trump all the technology of an aircraft and all the training of an aviator and because of their capabilities, the weather forecaster team is an invaluable asset to the mission."