By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Operations Support Squadron weather flight took part in Star Days at the Space Foundation March 7. The theme was “Weather Wonders” and included Storm Tracker 13’s Jason Laird, a variety of hands-on displays, and stations to make components for a take-home weather station.
The group from Team Pete brought along a deployable weather station — a TMQ 53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System — to display along with other weather forecasting information.
“This is equipment we take down range with us and use in austere environments where there is no other equipment,” explained Capt. Adam King, 21st Operations Support Squadron weather flight commander. “It provides information needed to (forecast) weather in the field.”
The particular piece of equipment the team displayed at the Space Foundation event has a bit of history. King said the station was used by the Fourth Infantry in the initial invasion of Iraq and was borrowed from Fort Carson for the event. The Air Force provides weather services for the Army in combat situations.
“Our Discovery Center weather event would not have been complete without the participation of the Peterson weather flight personnel, led by their commander Capt. Adam King. We wanted our visitors to learn about the important work of the weather flight team and its role in our defense,” said Elliot Pulham, Space Foundation chief executive officer.
Visitors to the event discovered the weather flight team provides information to a variety of groups and for different situations. Their mission is to provide or arrange for space and terrestrial weather support to local aviation operations, 21st SW staff-level operations, Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station resource protection, and to act as weather liaison to 21st SW geographically separated units.
The TMQ 53 can provide important weather data such as wind speed and direction, visibility, cloud height and coverage, lightning strikes, temperature and humidity, barometric pressure and precipitation levels. The station can operate remotely and be unmanned as well. Several can be networked and operated from one laptop, too.
The unit can be set up in about 30 minutes and are maintained by weather personnel.
“We are able to quickly set it up and begin disseminating weather information to forward- deployed units in 30 minutes,” King said.
Using the mobile stations allows information to be gathered in places where there is no climatological data history, according to Tech. Sgt. Jason Daughtrey, NCOIC, Mission Weather Operations.
“We are the first to take weather data for these places,” Daughtrey noted. “It enables us to provide more accurate forecasts.”
Along with the displays and the mobile weather station the team had a Kestrel hand-held weather station. The portable unit, which is about the size of a typical cell phone, measures wind speed, barometric pressure, temperature and humidity. The biggest difference between the Kestrel and the mobile weather station is in the interpreting of data.
“We use our training with that information to (manually) calculate,” Daughtrey said, “where the system automates that with the station.”
The Team Pete weather flight continues to provide the Air Force’s most diverse wing with top-notch environmental weather support across five countries in 24 separate locations.