HomeNewsArticle Display

Malmstrom weather is ‘snow’ joke

Senior Airman Corbyn Peterson, 341st Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, answers a radio device Jan. 9, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Senior Airman Corbyn Peterson, 341st Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, answers a radio device Jan. 9, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Peterson is one of several weather Airmen responsible for forecasting the weather for the base and all missions that occur within the missile complex. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Senior Airman Corbyn Peterson, 341st Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, uses a Kestrel to make weather observations Jan. 9, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Senior Airman Corbyn Peterson, 341st Operational Support Squadron weather forecaster, uses a Kestrel to make weather observations Jan. 9, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Kestrel is a small, handheld weather sensor, which enables forecasters to make physical observations of the weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- In Montana’s erratic and occasionally harsh climate, weather plays a major role on the mission, but with accurate and timely weather updates, Airmen can fulfill their jobs in a safe and effective manner.

The 341st Operational Support Squadron weather flight is responsible for analyzing weather conditions, preparing forecasts, issuing weather warnings and briefing weather information for Malmstrom operations and its 13,800 square-mile missile complex.

“We forecast the weather for the base and all missions that occur in the Air Force’s largest missile complex,” said Senior Airman Greyson-Ann Thornburg, 341st OSS weather forecaster. “In addition to base-side weather, we forecast for the helicopter squadron, convoys, missile maintainers and any other missions occurring within the missile complex.”

Forecasters are able to provide this information through the combination of weather models and prior technical training.

“We accomplish our job by looking at weather models and seeing what the weather is doing and how those models are trending,” said Senior Airman Corbyn Peterson, 341st OSS weather forecaster. “With the vast weather knowledge we are trained with, we forecast what weather systems are going to do in the future to help better support our mission’s weather sensitivities.”

One way they apply these models is by sending out terminal aerodrome forecasts.

“These TAFs are 30-hour forecasts, which go out three times per day,” said Peterson. “The aviators in the 40th Helicopter Squadron are the main people to utilize this. They’re able to access this through their software and have a clear outlook on the weather.”

In addition to models, forecasters have additional means to examine the weather, such as flight line sensor technology and Kestrels.

“We have a sensor on the flight line that measures winds, humidity and other information we need,” said Peterson. “It also measures for atmospheric changes, lightning and how far out it is, which is crucial during the summer when we get lightning storms.”

The Kestrel is a small, handheld weather sensor, which enables forecasters to make physical observations of the weather.

Since Malmstrom’s primary mission occurs in the missile field, the weather flight is responsible for tracking a wide range of weather.

“Our job here can be difficult because we are forecasting for such a large region,” said Thornburg. “There are a lot of different terrain effects, as well as different elevations and temperatures. There could be a completely different pressure system in one missile squadron than another or even on base.”

Like every Airman, weather forecasters end up playing a vital role in the mission of nuclear surety.

“We support nuclear surety through resource protection,” said Peterson. “We operate expensive equipment here to support the missile mission, especially our people.

“Mother Nature can be nurturing, but it loves to have a ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ mentality sometimes and loves to cause damage, particularly hail and high winds,” Peterson continued. “Our main mission here is to ensure those in the missile complex can focus on their job without the concern of unpredictable weather.”
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.