Fort Leonard Wood meteorologists focus on safety
July 10, 2014
Fort Leonard Wood meteorologists make sure the military community has the most up-to-date weather forecast.
Previously, the post had three observers who documented the weather. After one observer retired in March, officials at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence requested a weather forecaster presence on post.
Instead of only documenting the weather, the forecasters also use tools to predict the weather patterns.
Since the remaining observers were also qualified to be meteorologists, they became the new forecasters.
Clint Dobry, the staff weather officer, Operation Location-C 3rd Weather Squadron Fort Leonard Wood, Department of the Air Force, has been working on Fort Leonard Wood for about four years as an observer.
"Before we were just observers, but now we will be helping Fort Leonard Wood leaders make decisions. They can call us before a storm, it's ultimately their decision, but I can tell them what I think is going to happen," Dobry said. "Like a few days ago the 82nd Airborne was here to do a parachute drop on post. There were thunderstorms in the area, so I advised them to wait an hour or two."
"Our primary purpose is to protect life and property. Now, we can inform the installation beforehand, and they can use their resources more wisely. It's all about safety," he added.
Dobry currently works the morning and afternoon shift.
He has been forecasting the weather professionally for more than 20 years. He retired from the Air Force as a meteorological technician.
"I've been doing this for a long time. It is something I have always wanted to do. I have always been fascinated by weather. My old man was a meteorologist as well, so I am a second-generation weather dork. It's kind of a Family thing," Dobry said.
Brian Fox, meteorological technician, Operation Location-C 3rd Weather Squadron Fort Leonard Wood, Department of the Air Force, is the evening forecaster for the installation.
He was a Marine Corps rifleman before becoming an Air Force weather craftsman.
His favorite part of the job is when exciting weather fronts move into the area.
"I love the anomaly, the occasion when you see a truly unique situation develop," Fox said.
The Fort Leonard Wood forecasters issue weather watches, warnings and advisories for the installation and produce a five-day forecast for the Fort Leonard Wood website.
To predict the weather, they use satellite, radar, weather charts, lightning detection equipment and a FNQ-19 machine -- it's like a mechanical observer.
"There are sensors outside that give us wind speed, temperature, dew point and tells us how far lightning is away. We also use the Joint Environmental Toolkit," Dobry said.
Fox said one of the most difficult parts of their job is explaining meteorology to others.
"It can be a challenge to educate people to understand our capabilities and limitations as weather forecasters," Fox said.
The Fort Leonard Wood meteorologists aren't affiliated with the National Weather Service, but sometimes they do work together.
"The National Weather Service doesn't put out weather warnings for the fort -- we do that. The warnings only cover Pulaski County, but we do collaborate a little bit with them," Dobry said.
The meteorologists on post work directly with the Installation Operations Center.
"We send them the watches, warnings and advisories, then they send it out to the rest of post," Dobry said.
According to Dobry, the Marines, Air Force and the Navy have weather forecasters. They go to school in Mississippi at a joint schoolhouse.
The two forecasters here work for the Air Force's 3rd Weather Squadron based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
Dobry said they are hoping to hire a third forecaster this fall.