Scanning the sky, so we can fly
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- From clear calm skies and beach weather to violent typhoons, the 18th Operations Support Squadron weather flight provides accurate weather forecasts to the units on Kadena.
Accurate weather forecasting helps the DoD personnel on the base conduct smooth operations, along with the safe planning of outdoor activities on their off-time.
“It's our job to make sure we protect the resources and the people here on Kadena,” said Tech. Sgt. Leah Gonzalez, 18th OSS NCO in charge of airfield support function. “It gives them a heads-up as far as the weather that will be coming in, and provides them time to prepare.”
From tropical storms to dangerous wave heights, operations at Kadena can pose a unique challenge to the Airmen of the weather flight.
"The tempo here is very high, especially with the typhoons," said Master Sgt. Matthew Chouinard, 18th OSS weather flight chief. "It's very busy, and it’s very challenging."
In addition to seven flying squadrons and a large variety of aircraft calling Kadena Air Base home, there are routinely numerous other units temporarily at Kadena who require support from the weather flight.
"Knowing that we have a very wide array of assets on the island," Chouinard said. "We want to make sure that everyone is protected properly."
On a daily basis, one of the weather flights main concerns is the flying units, Gonzalez explained. Each aircraft has different thresholds or limitations in which they can operate within, and each unit is provided weather briefings daily.
"Kadena is unique in that we have so many different types of aircraft," Gonzalez explained. "We have every service here on the base, so we don’t work with just the Air Force partners."
With such a diverse customer base and challenging climate, the weather flight routinely collaborates with the other services’ forecasters while producing forecasts during adverse weather.
“It's nice to be able to collaborate and talk with them and learn about what is important to each of the other branches,” Gonzalez said, “I think it just makes us better as forecasters and more able to support our customers.”