Wild English weather no match for Mildenhall forecasters

Weather forecasters from the 100th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight pose for a photo near the runway at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather flight provides accurate forecasts for the aircrews in-flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

Weather forecasters from the 100th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight pose for a photo near the runway at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather flight provides accurate forecasts for the aircrews in-flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

Pilots from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron receive weather briefs on their tablets prior to take-off at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather briefs contain information which helps with mission planning and execution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

Pilots from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron receive weather briefs on their tablets prior to take-off at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather briefs contain information which helps with mission planning and execution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Denney, 100th Operation Support Squadron weather journeyman, plans for an upcoming weather brief at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather briefs contain information about what the weather is going to be like during the air refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Denney, 100th Operation Support Squadron weather journeyman, plans for an upcoming weather brief at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 1, 2018. The weather briefs contain information about what the weather is going to be like during the air refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor)

RAF MILDENHALL, England --

England’s weather can be quite challenging during this time of year, with its strong winds, thick fog and heavy rains.

The 100th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight on RAF Mildenhall conquers the weather by providing the pilots with the most accurate, up-to-date weather forecasts before every mission.  

The weather flight gives the aircrew a big picture of what they will encounter from the weather during take-off, air refueling and landing. The pilots receive information on crosswind speeds, wet runways, turbulences en-route, cloud icing, thunderstorm forecasts and flight level winds.

“Specifically for the air refueling track, our guys at the 100th, they’ll get their own broken down AR track forecast--what they are going to encounter during this block of time,” explained Staff Sgt. Samuel McCanna, 100th OSS weather forecaster. “In the air, the pilots don’t want to have turbulence when two planes connect. They don’t want to have reduced visibility. The boom operators want to be able to see where that boom is going. We try to narrow down exactly what they are going to expect at that time.”

The 100th OSS weather flight also works with the 352d Special Operations Wing and RAF Lakenheath’s weather flights. First Lt. Jacob Fedors, 100th OSS weather flight commander, said they combine their watches, warnings and advisories.

“On a daily basis, we are on the phone with them multiple times coordinating that weather effort,” he said. “This is different compared to back in the United States because normally it would just be the one weather flight. Here, we have that chance to collaborate with the 352d and the 48th Fighter Wing.”

Another difference working overseas compared to back in the States is weather forecasters must learn about a whole new weather system. “The systems move completely different. They don’t play by the same rules. The weather itself has been challenging with low visibility, fog, and every day it seems like some sort of wind or rain is coming through, but it has helped me grow as a forecaster and we make it work,” McCanna said.

The 351st Air Refueling Squadron’s aircrew value the 100th OSS weather forecasters, who constantly monitor the weather on a 24/7 round the clock work schedule to provide detailed weather descriptions.

“Everything in the weather brief is exactly what we see,” said Capt. Vincent Pellegri, a pilot from the 351st. “It helps us plan ahead and make necessary changes, like if we have to take-off early due to thunderstorms. They even brief us about the weather on other bases we may divert to en-route. It definitely helps us with planning the mission.”