View Full Version : Weather Marines keep watchful eye on tempest activities

10-15-03, 06:01 AM
Weather Marines keep watchful eye on tempest activities
Submitted by: MCAS Cherry Point
Story Identification Number: 200310991650
Story by Cpl. Nathaniel C. LeBlanc

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C.(Oct. 9, 2003) -- One of the many mottos that Marines are known for is fighting in any clime and place. Through frigid temperatures of Korea to the scorching desert heat of Iraq, Marines have battled the elements as well as the enemy along the road to victory.

With advancing technology and the ability to forecast weather with near-flawless precision, the Marine Corps utilizes this information in every facet of operations whether with the movement of troops across desert terrain or making flight plans aboard an air station.

Weather can change the tactics and decisions of a mission, and to avoid a run in with the tempest, the air station looks to the Marine weather forecasters and observers from Cherry Point's Marine Corps Air Bases East weather station.

The wing also uses the information, the commanders can use this information to make decisions and direct the posture of their command based off of what information we provide them.

"We collect information from satellite pictures, radar information and apply that for the air station," said Capt. Dave Hillman, Cherry Point weather officer. "It's important to have weather information readily available for Marines aboard the air station since the majority of activity here deals with flights. Pilots receive a flight weather brief so they know exactly what to expect once in the air."

During hurricanes, station weather closely monitors the activity along with participating in conference calls with the National Hurricane Association, which occurs every six hours. Some of the types of activity they monitor are winds, impacts, storm surges, and timing.

"During discussions, we'll collaborate with other air stations with information on the tracking, intensity, and the land fall of the hurricane," he said. We take that data along with information from NHA and tailor that to what we provide to the command."

Once they provided with detailed information about the weather's impact, the command uses the data to make informed decisions for the air station.

"We are essentially the command's eyes and ears when it comes to weather," he said. "During hurricanes, we get a feel for the storm. We plot, track and assess through compiled data to know exactly what to expect. It's become a pretty standard procedure."

Tension grows for the section as the storm moves in closer towards the air station.

"When hurricanes come near, it takes a lot of time away from regular plans and duty," Hillman mentioned. "Most of the sections energy is spent on tracking the storm."

During aircraft evacuation forecasters can find themselves swamped with briefs and duties to ensure accurate information.

"Once the storms become a category two or one, we set up a Hurricane watch for the duration. After the threat passes, the Marines on hurricane watch are relieved and the next Marines provide the weather support to returning aircraft."

As forecasters our mission is to provide organizations around the air station with current weather information. We provide aviation forecasts for anything from local flights, cross-country, or overseas flights."

"We brief pilots on what weather they'll encounter," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Reyes, forecaster for MCAS Cherry Point. "Hurricanes, thunderstorms, snow storms and anything that could possibly shut down operations."

The station weather Marines utilize satellites, and dedicated radar to retrieve accurate data. The Marines who collect this data are known as observers.

"The observers are the ultimate verifiers when it comes to interpreting information." Reyes said. "With them, we are able to provide accurate observations in a timely manner."

The Marines of Station Weather work together and apply their resources to provide the air station with dependable weather information.

"Our work always depends on the weather and the tempo of flight operations," Hillman added. "The weather never stops and we're always here to monitor its activities."


Lance Cpl. Mark Clausen, a weather observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, checks weather equipment to collect data for the Cherry Point weather station.
Photo by: Cpl. Nathaniel C. LeBlanc