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The Ever-Changing Face of Weather

Airmen operates weather sensor

Tech. Sgt. Michael Clevenger, 374th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster sets up a micro weather sensor on the flight line Aug. 6, 2021, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Micro weather sensors are portable devices that allow for retrieval of weather data including precipitation, wind speed, lightning and temperatures.

Airman inspects a weather sensor

Tech. Sgt. Michael Clevenger, 374th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster inspects a temperature and humidity sensor for damage Aug. 6, 2021, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Forecasters require fully functional equipment to ensure accuracy of weather patterns.

Airman surveys weather sensor.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Clevenger, 374th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster surveys weather sensors above flight line Aug. 6, 2021, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Weather forecasters are responsible for communicating accurate and timely weather information to leadership before, during and after flying operations.

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --

Leadership needs accurate and immediate information when preparing military operations, without this information, personnel and assets are put at risk. 

This presents a challenge for weather forecasters of the 374th Operations Support Squadron as they must provide accurate information for daily operations.

“We just moved out of the rainy season here at Yokota and into typhoon season,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Clevenger, a 374th OSS weather forecaster.  “Tracking these systems and their intensity becomes a crucial part of our job of protecting people and our assets; that goes for Yokota and our mission areas across the Western Pacific.”

The issue weather forecasters’ face is the potential for multiple storm systems operating in the same area of responsibility. This makes predicting storm behavior more difficult, but they have tools at their disposal to make the task simpler.

“We get help from Joint Typhoon Warning Center,” Clevenger said. “They govern the tropical systems throughout the area and, based on their forecasts, we can make decisions on how these storms will affect our installations in the region.”

Armed with the information from the warning center, forecasters are better equipped to advise leadership on operations and events on base.

“We briefed the wing commander down to the last minute to tell him if we could hold the event outside,” said Clevenger. “We’re usually right there in the room”.

Weather forecasters work with the 36th Airlift Squadron, which conducts daily supply drop and jump training; they also work closely with host nation partners such as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Clevenger emphasizes that this closeness provides greater capabilities for both military organizations.

“We work very closely with the JASDF,” Clevenger said. “We sit with them on a daily basis and learn from each other. We can deploy with them any time, anywhere.” 

The 374th OSS provides accurate weather for Yokota, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan - they also provide resource protection for Yokota and Tama Service Annex by issuing weather warnings.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much of an impact weather has on operations,” said Clevenger. “It could be anything from timing thunderstorms to enable air operations, forecasting sea temperatures during personnel recovery, or even solar flares which impact satellites and communications.”

Changing weather conditions can cause uncertainty, having the consistent operations of the 374th OSS provides the vital information to keep service members safe and the mission ongoing.