Military News

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Record-breaking Anchorage weather provides unsurpassed training potential at NE15

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 wrong.

"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."

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