Weather Hubs Work!!
CERVIA AIR BASE, Italy (AFPN) -- Some weather
professionals were skeptical when the Air Force established regional weather
hubs two years ago, but
a deployment with the 48th Expeditionary Operations Group has turned them
A Cervia weather team -- deployed here from Royal Air Force Lakenheath,
England, and augmented by weather airmen from RAF Mildenhall, England,
and Illesheim, Germany -- is in Italy supporting possible NATO actions
in Kosovo and Yugoslavia. The forecasters and observers are operating
under the Air Force's new weather hub concept that established regional
centers in key theaters throughout the world.
The team relies on support from one of the centers, the U.S. Air Forces
in Europe Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach Air Base, Germany, to
provide accurate weather information for U.S. pilots flying throughout
Under the hub system, forecasters at the OWS forecast the weather for
Cervia and other airfields, issue weather warnings and watches, and provide
technical support for setting up equipment at deployed locations.
In fact, the OWS sent two weather communications experts to Cervia at
the outset of the deployment to guarantee the deployed weather team had
the best possible connection to OWS support.
This leaves deployed weather troops free to concentrate on their theater
of operations and the local flying mission, according to Capt. Bob Kraetsch,
the deployed team chief at Cervia.
"The system lets us operate as a combat weather team," said
"We can focus our efforts on the area of responsibility and provide
mission-tailored support to the people who fly the combat missions."
Kraetsch, who has 15 years of weather experience both as an officer and
enlisted airman, said weather people on deployment had a more difficult
job in years past.
"They would not only provide forecasts for the flying mission, they
would spend time building local forecasts. This became even more difficult
with decreased manpower throughout the Air Force," he said.
"It's the future of weather operations and it's not just for forecasts.
We were talking to the weather hub well before the deployment actually
kicked off, so we knew what to bring and who our point of contact would
the OWS," Kraetsch said.
"If I feel I'm not getting the support I need, I can pick up the
and call the OWS. They've been extremely helpful. We all had our doubts
about two years ago, but now we know the system works," he added.
One converted believer, Air Force weather forecaster Staff Sgt. Robbie
Ellis, said planning for a previous deployment to Cervia had a few more
bumps, as, "it was the first time we'd tried the new concept.
"The weather people arrived here and tried to do everything themselves,"
Ellis said. "Communication between the base and the OWS hub didn't
really kick in until well into the deployment.
"This time, things are different," he explained. "The key
to the whole
system is communication between the team and the hub. When we arrived
here, we were talking almost immediately to Sembach."
The hub at Sembach uses forecast models and tools from around the world
to build accurate forecasts. These forecasts are then available to the
pilots flying out of Cervia.
"Basically, only because of new computer technology and the hub's
advanced coordination can we take advantage of all the tools out there,"
Accurate weather projection requires two-way communications, a team effort
from both ends.
Deployed weather observers spend most of their days and nights outside,
gathering information on the conditions and reporting it back to
Sembach. Sembach relies on the observations to provide accurate
Observers say they especially watch cloud types, heights, visibility,
speed and direction.
Senior Airman Tim Deehan is one observer deployed here from RAF
Lakenheath, who serves as the eyes and ears for the OWS hub.
"We're trying to paint the picture for the OWS," Deehan said,
they've given us some good feedback on what we send them."
"We're very proud of how well the weather hub concept has worked
this deployment," said Col. Paul Harris, USAFE director of weather
Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"Our forecasting experts at Sembach spend their time producing quality
forecasts, which allows our deployed combat weather team to spend (its)
time focused on customer support," he said. "It's a very good
(Courtesy of USAFE News Service)