Most Viewed Stories
Weather at YPG is serious business
The average American pays attention to weather forecasts because he or she wants to avoid inconveniences.
At Yuma Proving Ground, however, weather forecasts are serious business, for weather conditions directly impact mission success.
Each day, meteorological professionals spend hours poring over specially gathered data to make accurate predictions.
They release over 4,000 balloons per year throughout the rugged ranges of the proving ground, oftentimes at the break of dawn to aid in the success of hundreds of test missions. In addition, there are 27 weather collection grid towers, located in remote locations throughout the installation to collect data.
The result is an extended weather forecast released by YPG's Meteorological (MET) team by 7:30 a.m. daily.
Remaining flexible and prepared to assist with any test mission, every member of the nine person team spends time servicing weather towers and equipment throughout the entire installation. Working around the clock and putting in hundreds of overtime hours each year, the MET team supports every test mission conducted on the proving ground, with people sometimes driving hundreds of miles down range, beginning their day at 4 a.m., and ending when the sun goes down.
During the hot summer months, it can be exceptionally grueling for those working outdoors and performing laborious jobs. Therefore, the MET team provides an important and critical piece of data to the workforce throughout the day, called the wet bulb globe temperature (WGBT).
This method of weather data collection is used to measure the amount of stress a human being can withstand while working in the elements, such as radiation of the sun, wind speed and humidity. When the WGBT temperatures soar, employees are reminded to find shade, take a break and rehydrate with fluids.
“At times it can get hectic because we may be on the opposite side of the installation in a remote location supporting a test, and yet we need to release weather balloons or radiosondes every two hours from various locations,” said Gabe Langbauer, meteorologist. “With today's sophisticated equipment, we can cover a lot of ground and testers can see the weather changing in real time. They are able to view archived data in a database system and, with a touch of a button they can view weather measurements for the day as well as extended forecasts.”
Langbauer said weather measurements must be accurate, for the slightest change in conditions could affect the outcome of a test.
“A change in wind speed or direction could cause projectiles to go in the wrong direction. If testers don't have accurate information, the outcome could be fatal, or even catastrophic, due to drastic changes in the weather.”
Mary F. Flores writes for The Outpost, the newspaper at Yuma Proving Ground.