Grand Forks Air Force Base Forecasters Help Keep Military Missions Flying
Also Keeps People Who Live And Work On The Base Informed Of The Latest Weather
GRAND FORKS, ND — Every day there is a lot riding on a weather forecast.
For the weather team at the Grand Forks Air Force Base that includes the landing and takeoff of some the Air Forces most sophisticated aircraft.
Even on a grey November day with some light snow falling, the view from the control tower at the Grand Forks Air Force base is impressive. The concern is that this snow and lowering cloud deck may impact operations at the base.
It’s up to a team of weather forecasters to keep the base ahead of weather that could pose problems for planes coming in and out.
“We predict for 5 statute miles across the base and very specific thresholds for aircraft as far as icing, wind speeds, cross winds and stuff like that,” said Danielle Harrison of Grand Forks Air Force Base.
The forecaster not only keep the planes flying in and out but they also keep those that live and work on the base informed of the latest weather.
Part of their job includes taking hourly observations to provide extra data that cannot be picked up with the automated observation system.
The flying mission of the base is now exclusively unmanned aircraft including the global hawk. Despite the fact that there is no human on the aircraft, weather still plays an important impact.
“Every aircraft has certain sensitivities that affect it such as cross winds, high winds, sustained wind speeds, etc.”, said TSgt. Michael Nelson.
“So I would say there is really not much of a difference, the briefing, what we brief them on is fairly similar across the entire air force.”
And several of the forecasters here are relatively new to the air force and are doing this job after 4 months of intensive training.
Danielle said, “Of course I signed August 8th of this past year so I just hit my year mark and I’m already out here on the airfield predicting the weather.”
And with the knowledge gained here they can move to other challenging forecast locations around the world.
Nelson said, “You know I forecasting anything from dust storms in Iraq and Afghanistan to 65,000 foot top thunderstorms in Africa to freezing rain and snow storms out in Korea.”
Now what I got to see was for the operations for Grand Forks.
There is another section of the base that deals specifically with mission forecast but that is obviously classified though Sargent Nelson and his team also assist with those operations.