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    23rd SOWS weather flight forecasts mission safety

    23rd SOWS weather flight forecasts mission safety

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Hailey Ziegler | U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sam Ibarra, a weather forecaster with the 23rd Special...... read more read more

    HURLBURT FIELD, FL, UNITED STATES

    08.21.2020

    Story by Airman 1st Class Hailey Ziegler 

    1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

    HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 23rd Special Operations Weather Squadron informs decision makers of environmental and meteorological conditions to allow Air Force Special Operations Command to carry out the mission.
    However, the mission of the 23rd SOWS is to inject timely, accurate and tailored weather analysis into planning and execution phases of deployed, exercising, and garrisoned Special Operations Forces worldwide.
    “You can’t do anything without weather, because it’s a main driving force for everything,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Deandre Franklin, a weather forecast craftsman with the 23rd SOWS. “That’s why in most of the briefings we attend, we’re the first to brief, because we set the tone for operations.”
    The weather flight of the 23rd SOWS gathers physical weather data, as well as radar, satellite and sensor information in order to make forecasts.
    “The biggest aspect of our mission is the flight support that we do,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jackson Calloway, a weather forecast journeyman with the 23rd SOWS. “We do flight weather briefings, which is us briefing the flight crews for their specific mission by telling them where the weather is during takeoff, in-flight, and landing. We inform them of any hazards associated with the flight as well.”
    The other main aspect of the 23rd SOWS weather flight is resource protection, which includes Air Commandos, aircraft, facilities and equipment.
    “Our main job here is to provide the best and most accurate weather forecast for not just the 1st SOW, but any transit aircraft coming here,” said Franklin. “Closing things down or stopping events due to weather goes into resource protection. Sometimes we have to shut down the air fields due to lightning warnings, because aircraft can’t take off or land with that warning out. We also issue out strong wind advisories, which is another precautionary measure.”
    The weather flight usually works 24/7 tracking shifts in the atmosphere and weather patterns using their equipment.
    “Weather is crucial for AFSOC, because it’s a driving force,” said Franklin. “I’ve seen weather change mission times, determine If a mission even happened or not and used it to help missions.”
    The weather flight will start each day by reviewing meteorological conditions and how they did on the previous days’ forecast. They then create a new mission execution forecast for that day, which can be changed multiple times throughout the day, depending on the weather.
    “You can’t plan a training event if you’re getting thunderstorms or your aircraft can’t even take off to support the ground,” said Franklin. “That’s what we bring to the table, we help set the field for what you can do or how you can manipulate weather to get the job done.”
    The MEF covers the local flying area around the base, Eglin Air Force Base ranges and low-level flying routes from here all the way up to the Chattanooga area.
    “Right now, it’s the summer months so a lot of people are getting their jumps in, so we’ll get a lot of calls from jumpers requesting drop winds,” said Franklin “They’ll typically ask about the winds for every one thousand feet, because if the winds are too strong that impacts their direction and landing.”
    SOF members coordinate with the weather flight when doing training.
    “We’re here to help the mission, that’s the mindset they drive us to be in, mission first,” said Franklin.
    Another crucial part of forecasting weather is hurricane season, due to the potential damage a hurricane or tropical storm could bring to Hurlburt. The weather flight takes the data from the National Hurricane Center and the data they’ve collected to brief decision makers on base of potential impacts.
    “I think we did a MEF that day, but the big thing was briefing the wing commander of the potential impacts for Hurricane Michael and assuring him that the base would be okay,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jarred Smith, a weather forecast journeyman with the 23rd SOWS.
    The weather flight helped previous 1st Special Operations Wing commander U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Conley make crucial decisions when Hurricane Michael hit Florida.
    “We know our location, we know what’s going to be the driving force of us getting weather or not, and we always have good meteorological reasoning for why we’re going to get weather or not,” said Franklin. “We can always explain our forecasts really well and that’s one thing we pride ourselves on.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.21.2020
    Date Posted: 08.21.2020 16:31
    Story ID: 376556
    Location: HURLBURT FIELD, FL, US 
    Hometown: ASHEVILLE, NC, US
    Hometown: CADILLAC, MI, US
    Hometown: TAMPA, FL, US

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