The Dust Storm Whisperer

SSgt. Thomas Jenkins, the noncommissioned officer in charge of weather systems with the 47th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight at Laughlin AFB, Tex., has developed a mathematical formula that significantly improves the Air Force’s ability to predict dust storms. During a recent deployment to Iraq, Jenkins spent five months researching a way to improve the dismal 10 percent to 15 percent accuracy rate of predicting such storms, which not only can hamper a mission, but also impede pilots’ vision. Jenkins’ formula raises the accuracy rate to 80 percent. “In the field, it will make sure [ground troops] will have air support for whatever mission they are on, and [they will] have it more reliably,” he said. The Air Force is expected to begin training personnel on the new method soon. The Army and National Weather Service reportedly also have interest in adopting it. (Laughlin report by SrA. Scott Saldukas)