Forecasting Behind Enemy Lines

As July 4th approaches, we celebrate our great nation. While it is easy to take for granted our lifestyle and freedoms that we have (even to disagree at times), there are men and women that go above and beyond for our sake on a daily basis. We thank them.

Most Americans probably don’t realize that the first ones behind enemy lines are often a small group of meteorologists who are sent in to harms way to collect the weather data needed to give the U.S. armed forces the home field advantage they need to win the battles necessary to protect our freedom. If you think carefully, it is clear that weather elements can affect so many aspects of military operations. There are many obvious things that come to mind, for example, how might weather impact an aircraft mission or what does a large dust storm mean mechanized vehicle operations. There is even a fascinating (we chronicled it on a past episode of Weather Geeks) on how a weather forecast impacted D-Day.

Photo Courtesy: Kathryn Prociv

You might not think about the more subtle impacts of weather. Local, regional, or tactical implications of weather, climate, hydrology, and other scientific processes can be critical to all types of military operations. Different geographic or topographic regions have unique impacts on things like temperature, wind, precipitation patterns, and so forth. The Special Operations Weather Team (SOWTs) are on the front lines trying to understand the threats posed by weather and perhaps even how to use them to the advantage of the mission.

This week a former Special Operations Weather Team operations officer Major Jonathan Sawtelle will provide amazing insight into this truly special force. You may be surprised to hear about the rigor of their training and the nuances of their missions. Of course, we cannot talk about everything for obvious reasons, but it is a fascinating discussion. And let me give a special shout-out to Meteorologist and Weather Content Producer Kathryn Prociv for making this interview possible.

Photo Courtesy: Dr. Matt Sitkowski

I suspect you may be familiar with the Green Berets. SOWTs are the Grey Berets. Perhaps the final words on the Special Tactics Memorial sum them up best:

WE ACCEPT RISK OTHERS WILL NOT…WE TREAD WHERE OTHERS DARE NOT… SO OTHERS WILL REMAIN FREE….SO OTHERS MY FOLLOW.  WE ARE SPECIAL TACTICS AIRMEN.  WE ARE “THERE FIRST…THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

Join us for an all-new episode of Weather Geeks this 4th of July weekend. The show always airs Noon ET (11 am CT, 10 am MT, 9 am PT) on the Weather Channel.

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