Web Weather Wednesday: Military meteorologist Moss

Posted July 21, 2009
Updated July 22, 2009

WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss is a veteran of ice, snow, hurricanes -- and the Air Force. While employed at WRAL, he served a tour of duty in the Air Force reserve in Kuwait in 2005.

Now a member of the retired reserve, Moss is a familiar face and voice broadcasting from the WRAL WeatherCenter. He is also the answer guy behind many of the questions about weather conditions that come in to, and a regular blogger on weather phenomena.

In Web Weather Wednesday, he'll take your questions about his military and meteorological careers and explain how political and military action impacts the weather and environment in the Middle East.

Comment below to ask your question, then return Wednesday afternoon for Moss's answers.



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  • Mike Moss Jul 22, 2009

    Been There, It's hard for me to speculate since I don't know specifics of what your brother may have seen, but as far as making specific forecasts with details regarding weather elements critical to many aviation, ground, airborne, seaborne or port operations, I'm not aware of anything we ever did in the military that stretched accurately beyond the typical 4-7 day periods you see in civilian forecasts. Of course, there are some longer term climate outlook forecasts, but they are very general and of limited use in planning specific activities. Perhaps one of those, or a climatology briefing, covering what is typical of a particular time of year (how many days with low ceilings, temperature above 90 or below freezing, with visibility low enough, or winds high enough, to impact operations, etc), are what he was exposed to. The other thing that comes up in the military sometimes are "canned weather" scenarios, in which a fictional "forecast" for an exercise is made up in advance.

  • Mike Moss Jul 22, 2009

    PaulRevere, You may be on to something with the dust coming off Africa. I have not seen definitive information regarding how this year's dust loads compare to some longer term average amount, but have seen references to drought across North Africa, with the Sahel region notably drier than usual and vegetation well below average across the Sahel and toward the western end of the Sahara desert. Decreased vegetation and drier sand/dust source regions can enhance dust plume production by lowering somewhat the wind threshold need to loft the dust. Of course, year to year variability in the location, frequency and intensity of windy disturbances crossing west Africa also play an important role. Some studies have suggested large amounts of African dust transported into the eastern Atlantic can have a suppressive effect on hurricane formation. It will be interesting to see how this season turns out, given that El Nino (another negative for Atlantic hurricanes) is back in the Pacific.

  • Been there once Jul 21, 2009

    My brother was also in the service and he said there were weather reports available to them for the month. Is this true, can you predict the weather for a month?

  • PaulRevere Jul 21, 2009

    Have this year's African dust storms been larger that usual? I'm not expert, but it seems to me that the dust has been more visible than normal further from the African coast on visible satellite loops (which I view from the NHC site).