199th Weather Flight keeps Makani Pahili commanders abreast

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Robert Cabuco
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs
Among the many agencies that represent the brick and mortar that support command during the Exercise Vigilant Guard/Makani Pahili 2015 in Hawaii, the 199th Weather Flight represents a keystone that provides critical weather forecasts to decision makers.

Vigilant Guard is a United States Northern Command and National Guard Bureau sponsored exercise program. Exercises are held in a different state each year test the homeland response. Makani Pahili is Hawaii's yearly statewide hurricane preparedness exercise is being held in conjunction with Vigilant Guard.

The Hawaii Air National Guard 199th Weather Flight's primary mission is to provide weather forecasts for the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Represented by Hawaii Air National Guard, Maj. Dana Uehara, the weather flight "predicts weather conditions at a point in time that will determine when command will launch recovery and relief efforts. They will plan the mission based on the information the weather flight provides."

Uehara is a staff weather officer for the weather flight as a traditional guardsman and also serves as a civilian satellite analyst for the 17th Operations Weather Squadron on the active duty side. Before the Guard, Uehara had served 10 years of active duty as a weather analyst in Travis Air Force Base, Korea, U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) and finally the Air Force Weather Agency in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

The observations generated by Uehara are derived from Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) reports released by the National Weather Service and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Uehara decodes the TAF data and extracts wind speed and direction, temperature, and weather elements such as showers, thunderstorms and lightning. These factors are used to determine when to begin relief efforts, send out surveillance teams to assess damage, and release air reconnaissance and recovery teams.

Aviators specifically request visibility conditions, cloud heights and ceilings to assist in determining flight plans. Uehara reports the storm's current position and path, determines impacted areas, and the strength of tropical storm force winds.

Last year, Uehara was activated for the state active duty in response to the real-world threat of Hurricane Anna. He set up shop at the Joint Operations Center (JOC) and put to use what he is now practicing in the Exercise Vigilant Guard/Makani Pahili 2015.

There are many challenges when interpreting the various models produced by the data. "Each forecast begins with an analysis of the hurricane's current location and intensity. If the models give different results, the forecaster has to decide which one to use for the official forecast or compute a median result," says Uehara.

The JTF 5-0 gathers information from many agencies to make decisions during catastrophic events. The 199th Weather Flight provides critical input that will guide leadership's decisions and keep everyone safe through the storm.