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Fairchild weather flight’s clear sight keeps mission safe

Senior Airman Christopher McGrath, 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight forecaster journeyman, monitors weather patterns and systems Dec. 4, 2018, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Daily operations of a weather Airman include performing daily mission execution forecasts and terminal aerodrome forecasts, which are forecasts within five nautical miles of Fairchild. These forecasts become translated into a five-day forecast used for general mission planning on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena)

Senior Airman Christopher McGrath, 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight forecaster journeyman, monitors weather patterns and systems Dec. 4, 2018, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Daily operations of a weather Airman include performing daily mission execution forecasts and terminal aerodrome forecasts, which are forecasts within five nautical miles of Fairchild. These forecasts become translated into a five-day forecast used for general mission planning on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena)

Senior Airman Christopher McGrath, 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight forecaster journeyman, uses a Kestrel Weather Meter Dec. 4, 2018, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. A Kestrel Weather Meter is a handheld wind and weather meter that provides the speed of the wind, the temperature, humidity and heat stress information. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena)

Senior Airman Christopher McGrath, 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight forecaster journeyman, uses a Kestrel Weather Meter Dec. 4, 2018, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. A Kestrel Weather Meter is a handheld wind and weather meter that provides the speed of the wind, the temperature, humidity and heat stress information. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- In order to sustain and execute rapid global mobility, mission planning is essential. Everything from the Airmen to aircraft and supplies are coordinated and put into place in order to successfully complete the mission. However, before any mission planning can be conducted, determining if weather conditions are safe is one of the first steps in accomplishing any refueling or rescue mission.

Knowing whether snow will blanket the ground, rain will drench the roads or flashes of lightning will fill the sky, Fairchild’s 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight keep their eyes upward, providing forecasts, ensuring mission safety and protecting essential resources on base.

“Being able to work with pilots and having a direct tie to the mission provides us a bigger insight as to what we do as a wing,” said Senior Airman Christopher McGrath, 92nd OSS weather flight forecaster.

Fairchild’s weather flight assists with a variety of missions supporting the U.S. Army National Guard, the 36th Rescue Squadron and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school by providing weather direction in and around the Fairchild area.

“Weather is constantly changing,” McGrath said. “The Pacific Northwest is especially difficult to forecast because of the varying weather patterns across the region, but without our forecasts, or if they’re inaccurate, a mission may not be successful or even conducted.”

For weather, the three primary areas of focus are forecasting, observation and resource protection, which includes weather watches, warnings and advisories. Weather Airmen handle all inquiries and weather update briefings for all ground and flying missions.

“In terms of resource protection, we are looking for inclement and hazardous weather that may affect the mission and the Airmen who work outside,” said Tech Sgt. Matthew Haas, 92nd OSS weather flight NCO- in -charge. “It’s up to us to provide the proper weather update so the Airmen have the time necessary to protect themselves and mission essential assets.”

Beyond providing forecasts and notifications for missions, weather also provides warnings and watches across Fairchild and assists with emergency procedures. By supplying weather reports and data, it can be determined if the climate may have an effect on future emergency operations.

“In the event of an aircraft emergency, we are tasked with providing reports and forecasts to determine if weather may have been a factor in the emergency,” Haas said.

As the first step in completing any mission, the abilities of the 92nd Operation Support Squadron weather flight are essential to the success of executing and sustaining rapid global mobility as the world’s finest Total Force Airmen leading the nation’s premier air refueling team.