LRandyB's Tropical Weather Discussion

The End of the 2011 Hurricane Season and a Career, Monday, December 5th, 2011

By: LRandyB, 4:47 PM GMT on December 05, 2011

     We have come to the end of yet another hurricane season and, as predicted, it was a busy one, at least in terms of the number of storms we had. There were an unusually low number of landfalls but we won't complain about that. You can read Dr. Master's blog for the the stats for the 2011 season. It was my 15th season with the Hurricane Hunters and my last. I am retiring from the AF Reserves as of December 31st and I flew my last flight on Friday, December 2nd. I'll post the pictures here. And this was my last dropsdonde report from the plane:

UZNT13 KNHC 021810
XXAA 52184 99285 70873 08187 99027 20456 09013 00226 17847 08517
92887 11803 10016 85591 07205 12013 70191 05478 07510 50585 10377
29515 40755 20565 28038 88999 77999
31313 09608 81750
61616 AF300 WXWXA 111202160150300 OB 10
62626 SPL 2848N08728W 1801 MBL WND 08517 AEV 20802 DLM WND 05503
026398 WL150 08515 084 REL 2848N08728W 175054 SPG 2848N08728W 180
116 LAST FOR RB THANKS FOR THE RIDE
XXBB 52188 99285 70873 08187 00027 20456 11928 12004 22850 07205
33826 05814 44822 06837 55816 08673 66812 09077 77774 10299 88727
07277 99519 08599 11502 10376 22471 11196 33413 17767 44398 21164
21212 00027 09013 11009 08518 22937 09019 33869 10511 44856 09512
55850 12013 66843 13013 77811 08016 88722 10014 99704 07511 11632
01503 22562 30015 33524 31010 44507 29013 55484 30018 66432 27524
77398 28040
31313 09608 81750
61616 AF300 WXWXA 111202160150300 OB 10
62626 SPL 2848N08728W 1801 MBL WND 08517 AEV 20802 DLM WND 05503
026398 WL150 08515 084 REL 2848N08728W 175054 SPG 2848N08728W 180
116 LAST FOR RB THANKS FOR THE RIDE

     My AF career started in August 1984 when I enlisted as an aircraft electrician. After tech school in Chanute AFB, IL, my first assignment was working on C-130s at Little Rock AFB, AR. I spent three years there and when I was given the opportunity to retrain, I did so, switching to the weather career field in 1988. I spent a year at Chanute AFB again getting through a rather grueling tech school before moving to Ellsworth AFB, SD in 1989. I learned a LOT about weather there. South Dakota has just about every kind of weather you can think of from blizzards to hail to tornadoes to dust storms to fog.. pretty much everything. And it was a great learning experience for me. In 1991 I was transferred to Spangdahlem AB, Germany. That was probably one of my best assignments but also one of the most challenging when it came to weather forecasting. Spangdahlem lies in the heart of the Eiffel Region of central Germany. Fog was a common problem there and wasn't always easy to forecast. I remember one year going down to near zero visibility in fog for two straight weeks. After three years in Germany I then moved to Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA. While perhaps a bit easier to forecast, Faichild had the distinction at the time of being the only base with a cold fog dispersal system. We literally had some small degree of control over the weather. It took a very specific set of conditions to exist to use the system, but when we could use it, it worked great. We could go from zero visibility to 1 mile in a matter of minutes, then back to zero when the system was turned off. But that was enough to let planes land and take off.

     I left active duty AF in 1995 to take a civilian job with the Department of Defense at Homestead ARS, FL. I was basically hired to do exactly the same job for the same employer but now I was doing it for more money in civilian clothes with no threat of deployment and I was doing it in a fairly easy to forecast tropical location. What more could a weather guy ask for? I had to admit, it did get a bit boring! So, to alleviate the boredom, and avoid losing 11 years of service time, I transferred to the AF Reserves in 1996 and started flying with the Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler AFB, MS.   That has been a dream job for someone who loves weather AND flying! And I've gotten to indulge in my real passion, photography, along the way in an environment few people get to take pictures in!  

     And so this year I end that career. I'll still be working with the folks I flew with. My civilian job is as a flight simulator instructor here at Keesler so I still train the same crews that I have flown with. And I work with the Hurricane Hunters Association maintaining the HurricaneHunters.Com web site. So I am not leaving, merely changing rolls. I hope to obtain press credentials from WU and the HHA which would allow me to fly storms with the unit as a media person and report back to you what I see! We'll see.

     It's been a great career and while it is somewhat bittersweet to see it end, I do look forward to a bright future with my wife, my job, my photography, and my friends!

    I hope to have more time now to keep my blog here updated (I know I've been very bad about that) and I do plan to continue to do this! Thanks to all my fans here who have been very understanding of the gaps! :-)

Thanks,

Randy 
    

Updated: 5:06 PM GMT on December 05, 2011

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About LRandyB

I was an AF aviation weather forecaster for 12 years, then 15 years as a dropsonde systems operator with the AF Reserve Hurricane Hunters.

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