CAFB Weather Flight ready for when severe weather strikes
By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 19, 2020
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 14th Operations Support Squadron’s Weather Flight is Columbus Air Force Base’s first line of defense against continuously changing weather and supports the mission by providing accurate forecasts, generating timely warnings and continuously looks out for severe weather threatening the base.
Base residents are advised to know that the Watches, Warnings and Advisories (WWAs) that the National Weather Service issues are different than the alerts by the weather flight. The difference is the National Weather Service issues WWAs for the whole county while the weather flight issues for just the base.
While the weather flight does work with other agencies to gather information, it remains the official WWA issuing entity for Columbus AFB. When it comes to severe weather announcements Columbus AFB personnel are asked to pay attention to the base’s alerts and sirens.
Columbus AFB’s Weather Flight categorizes severe weather by winds equal or greater than 50 knots (unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour), three-quarter inch hail or larger, or evidence of wind shear causing a rotation of cells in the atmosphere favoring tornado conditions.
“Resource protection is a big part of our job whether it’s the mission or the populace of the base and that is why we stress accuracy,” said Jeremiah Story, 14th OSS Weather Flight lead meteorological technician. “There is no reason to create panic on base if we won’t be affected, so even if there is a tornado warning in surrounding areas we won’t sound the alert unless we know it is going to affect us.”
In the case of a tornado Columbus AFB’s Weather flight will issue a warning if the funnel is expected to impact the base or anywhere in a five mile radius around Columbus AFB. While the warning is being issued, command post along with the Wing Headquarters will be notified and the base sirens will be activated.
“It’s a challenging job with a lot of responsibility that we take seriously,” said Story. “Once severe weather is identified and we know the course it will take, a severe weather action team will be in place to issue alerts, notify key personnel and update the base as needed.”
When weather conditions that threaten life or property are occurring or expected to occur, a notice will be sent out and residents should take appropriate action immediately.
Weather Flight personnel are either on-duty or on-call at all hours to ensure that the base is alerted when severe weather is likely to occur.