And You Think It's Dry THERE!
Posted July 3, 2005
My last day at WRAL until the Fall was June 19th, and things moved fast from there. I left home on a commercial flight from RDU, connected with an Air Mobility Command flight in Baltimore, and then it was on to Kuwait International, with a couple of stops along the way in Europe. When we got to Germany, a group of older veterans and retirees departing the aircraft had the flight crew pass along their thanks to the younger troops, along with wishes for safety and a speedy return to the U.S. for those heading into harm's way - it was a thoughtful gesture, and a nice moment. It made me appreciate all the more what a lot of the young soldiers and marines on board would be facing within a few days or weeks of our arrival.
After deplaning, we loaded onto buses and headed for an in-processing center at one of the bases in-country, escorted by leading and trailing up-armored humvees. Kuwait has been quite a safe place to serve and remains so, but precautions were in order with such a large group passing through. After in-processing, a pair of folks from my section arrived to pick me up and take me down to my duty station at Camp Arifjan. After a half-day or so of inprocessing and orientation, I finally had a chance to sleep and begin to get over the initial jet-lag from the trip, which began Monday afternoon in Raleigh and ended mid-morning Wednesday at my unit.
Since then, I've been working on a smooth transition from the previous weather team serving here to mine, learning the daily schedule and weather briefing formats, meeting the people I need to know, finding my way around all the base facilities, and becoming familiar with our airfield weather equipment and how to troubleshoot it if it gives us any problems.
Of course, since this is a weather page blog, I have to speak to the conditions we've seen since I arrived. The temperature was in the mid 120s during the daytime just before my late evening arrival, but has been a little more moderate since. We routinely reach about 110-114 in the afternoons and dip to around 84-88 in the early morning, with the hottest day being 117 (on rare occasion, though, it can approach 130 F). The best description I can think of is that walking outside often feels like the sensation you get when you first enter a car that's been closed up and sitting in the summer sunshine for a few hours. However, during the summertime here there is a persistent low pressure trough over the Persian Gulf that stretches northwest into easternmost Iraq and western Iran, with a semi-permanent high pressure ridge over Saudi Arabia, Syria and western Iraq. The net effect is to produce winds that are very regularly from the northwest, meaning they originate over land and maintain a very dry airmass. In fact, the average afternoon relative humidity here in July is 7 percent! With that, the temperatures near 120 do not feel as bad as something similar would in North Carolina.
On the other hand, when those winds pick up sufficiently, they can loft significant dust and sand into the air, creating important restrictions to visibility and just plain making it unpleasant out. When the wind is or has been up, being outdoors for just a few minutes leads to the feeling of being coated with fine powder, like talcum, while stronger gusts increase the loading of larger sand particles, which can get in your eyes and also can give new meaning to the words "eating your grits" during a walk across the base! Luckily, after a couple of days like that when I first arrived, we've had more tranquil conditions through the past week or so.
That's about it for this first "dispatch." As time and my mission here allow, I'll check in on occasion with posts on other topics. Hope everyone has a great 4th of July!