by Staff Sgt. William Banton
Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs
6/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
first week of Exercise Northern Edge 15 in Alaska brought with it
record-breaking high temperatures which meant perfect flying conditions
for the joint training exercise.
"It is unseasonably warm up here, but hot for Alaska is still
comparatively benign for the lower 48 states," said Capt. Richard
Williams, 525th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot. "The heat itself
hasn't really thrown us off, but the clarity and the nice weather we are
experiencing has simplified things greatly."
According to Capt. Carl Densford, 3rd Operations Support Squadron
weather commander, significantly warmer than average sea temperatures
moved warmer air into the upper-levels of the atmosphere. This altered
the pattern of the Jetstream just enough that higher pressure is
overhead preventing weather systems from affecting the local area.
"Normally weather is very much a factor we have to contend with up here,
" Williams said. "It's something we have to plan around, and it can
often complicate our missions, but the past few days have been
beautiful. It has let us focus on our tactics and our execution."
The perfect flying conditions come during the second driest summer in
the last 30 years, said Technical Sgt. William Thornton, 3rd OSS weather
NCO in charge of airfield management services.
"This year has been a truly unusual time for Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson and the Anchorage Bowl," Densford said. "We were
several feet below our average annual snowfall and have experienced more
thunderstorms in the local area in the months of April and May than we
see all year."
Climate statistics for JBER suggest that thunderstorms, which can impede
flying, are very rare. The local area average is supposed to be one
thunderstorm per year, but the past two years have proven these stats
"I've only been here for two years, but by mid-June each year we surpass
those numbers," Thornton said. "Our extreme max temperature is supposed
to be 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and we came to that a few
days ago. This is definitely a unique season."