Fort Leonard Wood’s weather team placed first out of nine 3rd Combat Weather Squadron teams and eighth overall — out of 80 teams — in the 2020 Air Force Thor’s Legion Forecast Challenge.
According to Forney Airfield’s Lead Meteorological Technician Clint Dobry, Air Force weather experts worldwide compete “to see who’s the best at forecasting weather.”
“It’s just meat and potatoes — we try to do our best to predict what’s going to happen before it happens,” he said.
The format for this year’s competition had all 80 teams attempting to produce the most accurate forecast for locations in Bulgaria, Estonia and Norway.
“We were trying to give them a 24-hour outlook of what to expect if they were to, say, be doing missions in that location,” said Chris Reddington, one of three meteorological technicians here. “It was a great team effort, and I think for as small a unit as we are, it was amazing what we did. Some of the units we were competing against have as many as 40 forecasters.”
Dobry said the team used forecast models, satellite pictures, current observations and information from weather balloons in the area.
“We try to interrogate that data,” he said. “There’s skill involved, but it’s an art form as well.”
Reddington said the three technicians here have a combined 70-plus years of experience in meteorology, which came in handy when forecasting far-away locations.
“I briefly spent time as a weather observer in Europe,” he said.
The top 10 overall winners were announced Oct. 29 in a memo from Air Force Col. Gary Kubat, acting Director of Weather and Air Force Deputy to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dobry said the 3rd CWS winners typically get temporary access to their commander’s parking spot, but seeing that it’s at Fort Hood, Texas, they’re going to pass on it.
“We’re not going to drive all the way down there for that,” he said.