A step ahead of the storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca R. Imwalle
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Day and night, rain or shine, one group of specialized Airmen work tirelessly to ensure base operations continue despite unpredictable and inclement weather.

These nine individuals are the Airmen of the 28th Operations Support Squadron weather flight. They are responsible for providing detailed weather updates to base personnel through the command post and other base agencies around the clock.

Tech. Sgt. Will Price, 28th OSS NCO in charge of mission integration function, said the Ellsworth weather flight performs a number of duties for the base and its Airmen, each critical to the base's ability to accomplish the mission
"We support each of the commander's priorities on base," Price said. "We support the team by giving daily forecasts to keep the base updated on weather possibilities. We win the fight by briefing all aircrew on weather conditions prior to flying, and prepare for the future by using forecasts to predict inclement weather possibilities to help ensure the safety of all Airmen."

Senior Airman Shane Yurkus, 28th OSS weather forecaster, said that the weather flight focuses on three main functions - airfield support, mission integration and weather updates to Bomb Wing staff, all of which greatly contribute to the base's mission.

"We provide information to different groups on base," Yurkus said. "These groups then decide if road conditions, heat or cold stress or base closures should be updated. There many things we need to constantly monitor. It is very important that inclement weather does not happen without warning."

In addition to monitoring base weather, weather flight technicians also monitor the weather in areas where B-1 bombers are flying.

"Resource protection is very important," Price said. "We must ensure all Airmen and equipment are safe. If hail is probable, it can cause major damage to aircraft and we must know if the weather is coming so all safety precautions will be taken."

Due to more exact targeting, the base weather flight's information is much more reliable than local weather channels. Predictions are based on a five-mile radius of the base, so priority is on the base, not surrounding areas.

"The Black Hills create an interesting environment for the weather crew," Price said. "Due to the Black Hills, we see a lot of weather conditions many places don't, such as high winds, and major thunderstorms which are extremely common. For that and several other reasons, it is very rewarding to be part of Ellsworth's weather flight."