Laughlin weather flight tackles Tropical Storm Alberto

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

When Tropical Storm Alberto, this season’s first named storm, threatened the Acuña region, Del Rio and Laughlin AFB, the 47th Operation Support Squadron (OSS) weather flight jumped into action.  

“My team began monitoring the potential for tropical weather impacts to Laughlin AFB and the community days in advance when model forecasts projected a storm potentially reaching us in the coming days,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Pennington, 47th OSS flight commander of weather operations. “We analyzed the models and the forecast information put out by the National Hurricane Center to shape our forecasts and impacts to Laughlin AFB and the surrounding communities.” 

This early detection allowed for the preparation of accurate and timely forecasts, including potentially heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding and strong winds causing wind damage, enabling Laughlin AFB and the local community to take necessary precautions to mitigate these prospective impacts. 

“Our team continued to provide seamless around-the-clock operations,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Figueroa, 47th OSS weather forecaster. “We constantly monitored weather data, collaborated on forecasts, and ensured critical updates were disseminated to base leadership to make informed decisions to protect assets.” 

The weather flight utilized multiple communication channels to disseminate weather updates to the local populace. Internal communication involved sending forecasts via email to base personnel and presenting key information through various staff meetings. Externally, the forecasts were shared on the “Laughlin AFB Weather” Facebook page, extending the reach to a broader audience. This use of social media proved highly effective, with weather updates being shared 96 times and reaching approximately 64,000 people across Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña. 

The 47th OSS weather flight advised residents to avoid flooded areas, secure loose outdoor items and reroute any travel plans as necessary; aiming to reduce the risk of injury and damage during the storm. 

“The biggest challenge for us is the difficulty of forecasting tropical weather and how severe the impacts will be,” said Pennington. “Our team utilized experience and technical expertise in the field of tropical meteorology to best assess the likely storm path and impacts to the region.” 

This proactive approach helped ensure the base’s readiness and resilience in the face of Tropical Storm Alberto by allowing Team XL time to prepare its facilities, aircraft and personnel for inclement weather. 

“Every tropical storm presents unique challenges,” said Figueroa. “This particular storm helped us refine our data collection methods during high-impact weather events, ensuring our forecasts remain accurate even under pressure. I’m confident that the experience of this storm will make our team even more prepared for future challenges. We are always striving to improve our forecasting capabilities to better serve the people and the local community.” 

Through dedicated efforts and strategic communication, the weather flight not only ensured the safety and preparedness of Laughlin AFB, but also provided invaluable support to the surrounding community.