WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

New Team Takes Over...

Posted July 9, 2005 2:29 p.m. EDT

Since my last post from Kuwait, we've completed the transition from the last Air Force weather team to mine, and settled into more of the routine that we'll follow for the remainder of our four-month rotation here. It was an interesting week, with a somewhat shortened work schedule on the Fourth of July followed by a long day on the 5th, as we experienced a sustained and widespread dust storm resulting from winds that gusted to between 40 and 50 knots for much of the day, and greatly reduced visibility that had serious impacts on some of the operations we support. The good news in all that was that we had correctly and consistently forecast that Tuesday would be a bad day for about three to four days prior to the event.

Although we (meaning not only our small team here but the supporting Air Force weather infrastructure that includes the Air Force Weather Agency in Omaha NE and a forecast cell at Shaw AFB SC that specializes in predicting weather for the Central Command operations area) got this one right, I have found that detecting day to day variations in wind and visibility at assorted locations in the region can depend heavily on subtle changes in a weather pattern that othwerwise appears very similar from one day to the next. For those of you interested in learning more about dust storms, there is an excellent tutorial on sand and dust transport at


Here, you can learn all about "creep," "saltation," "suspension" and other processes that play a role in these events, not to mention find out what "desert pavement" is. There is a satellite image in the tutorial at the start of section 3.1.6 that shows a situation very similar to what occurred here this past Tuesday, as the Tigris-Euphrates flood plain region was the source of much of our dust that day too.

Otherwise, life has been pretty good here, as the base has been in use long enough to develop a well-established support structure, with gym facilities, three chow halls (DFACs in the local lingo, for "Dining Facility") , a library and a couple of recreation centers.

This morning, the unit I work for welcomed a new commander for one of the subordinate sections with an 0545 "morale run." Over 200 of us formed up and ran two miles or so in cadence, singing jodys and the whole shebang, something I haven't done for probably twenty years, since my Army (and later Air Force) ROTC days. Luckily I do routinely run a couple of miles about 5 days a week anyway, so it wasn't any problem staying in step with the group!

Later this evening, it was time for an Abbott and Costello routine, at least that's the best I can surmise. I took a uniform to the base cleaners to have it washed and pressed. I asked for light starch, as I usually do at home. The person at the counter said "okay, I'll put down heavy starch and it will be light." I said, "but I really want light starch - why can't you write that instead?" "Because this is new material, so heavy starch will be light." I said, "what if we split the difference, and I get medium starch?" "Okay, I'll write down extra heavy." By now, I was looking around to see if I was on some kind of reality show. Presumably, if I wanted heavy starch, I would have to ask for him to write extra extra heavy, but I decided to just go with the tide at that point and let him write "heavy," which I am hoping will, in fact, actually be light - I'll try to follow up with more on this "pressing" matter in my next post!

Meanwhile, after days with clear skies, we actually had some clouds today, albeit scattered at about 15,000 and 25,000 feet, with a high of 115, which seemed quite hot as we've had several days recently in the 108-110 range. It's looking like we could touch on 120 or so early next week.