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36th OSS weather flight keeps heads above the clouds

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
When ominous clouds form overhead, it's a safe bet the 36th Operations Support Squadron's weather flight forecasters have the inside scoop on sky-high happenings. 

A group of 10 Team Andersen Airmen are responsible for taking hourly weather observations which are used to inform the local populace and recording the data for climatology and historical purposes. 

"By keeping these records, people can go back and see what percentage of occurrence we have of thunderstorms during a given month," said Senior Airman Timothy Kramerick, 36th OSS weather flight forecaster. "This gives us a way to more accurately forecast weather based on what has previously happened." 

Tracking this data also assists the weather flight in performing its most critical task - to protect base resources. 

"We're here in case of any inclement weather," Airman Kramerick said. "We'll issue a lightning watch or lightning warning, effectively shutting down the airfield and any construction." 

The weather flight also provides support for transient aircrews on base. 

"Any flight that's going to be performed has to have a weather briefing with a go/no-go forecast before they're allowed to actually go on their flight mission," Airman Kramerick said. 

In addition to assisting the transient aircrews, the weather flight also supports the HSC-25 Island Knights, a Navy unit responsible for conducting search and rescue missions, as well as the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters." 

"The 'Hurricane Hunters' will be flying and doing precision air drops in the area to try to scientifically decipher better ways to accurately forecast tropical storms and typhoons," Airman Kramerick said. 

For the noncommissioned officers of the weather flight, the mission takes on a slightly different look. 

According to Master Sgt. Mark Gustilo, NCO-in-charge of weather operations, his role is to oversee weather operations, ensure customer support and brief wing leadership on current weather happenings. 

"I think there's a lot of challenges with being involved in the weather career field," Sergeant Gustilo said. "Some days the weather can be really quiet. Some days, you could have a typhoon approaching. What I've seen during my career is when you're dealing with Mother Nature, there's a lot of unpredictably involved. It definitely keeps you on your toes." 

Despite the unpredictable nature and the possibilies of potentially working 12-hour days pending the skies, Airman Kramerick finds time to enjoy the finer points of his job. 

"The best part of working in weather is getting to directly interact with the people who are carrying out the mission," Airman Kramerick said. "You get to talk to pilots of all ranks. 
You get to know where they're going and what they're doing. You get to see how your job directly impacts them, and usually, when they get back, they'll provide us some kind of feedback like, 'Hey, good job on that forecast. Everything was right. You guys really took care of us.'"