Senior Airman Demetreus Newell, 374th Operations Support Squadron mission execution forecaster, checks weather conditions throughout Japan Aug. 16, 2012, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Newell must constantly check weather conditions to ensure pilots have the most up-to-date information prior to and during flights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad C. Strohmeyer)
Members of the 374th Operations Support Squadron weather flight discuss weather conditions throughout Japan Aug. 16, 2012, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Weather personnel must know the current weather conditions in order to properly inform the Yokota community. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad C. Strohmeyer)
by Staff Sgt. Chad C. Strohmeyer
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/17/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - -- All eyes are on one agency when bad weather strikes at Yokota. They are the ones who must alert personnel and residents of sudden and possibly dangerous conditions.
The 374th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight provides both accurate and timely weather support for the 374th Airlift Wing and the Yokota community.
"We provide tailored weather forecasts to individual aircraft, whether flying locally or abroad," said 1st Lt. Michael Greene, 374 OSS weather officer. "The desk forecasters also provide briefings to pilots flying multi-ship formations, to include drop exercises and Samurai Surge exercises."
Utilizing resources such as, weather balloons, satellite and radar imagery, model data and surface observations, the weather flight is able to assist personnel with their mission when dealing with ever-changing weather conditions, said Greene.
"One of our primary missions is to ensure pilots are flying in conditions they were previously briefed on," said Greene. "If weather suddenly changes, it is our responsibility to protect and advise them in the air."
Additionally, providing up-to-the-minute climate condition changes to aircrew personnel is a top priority for ensuring a successful mission.
"If crosswinds are too severe or cloud ceilings and visibility are too low, pilots would be unable to fly," said Greene. "Another common condition would be lightning within five nautical miles of the airfield, which halts all flying immediately."
According to one weather flight senior NCO, dealing with last minute changes in weather conditions in remote areas can be one of the most difficult challenges.
"We sometimes have to provide forecasts to an area where there is limited data," said Master Sgt. Jason Smith, 374 OSS weather flight chief. "Many times, the only data we have to work with is satellite imagery, which only updates twice an hour. As people know, the weather changes a lot faster than that."
Even with the challenges they face, Smith feels the hard work is rewarding in the end.
"Across the Air Force, weather flights provide the information needed for mission success," Smith said. "At Yokota, we don't take this job lightly. We strive to ensure the community is 'weather aware' at all times."