A crystal ball won’t help predict the weather, but a good meteorologist can, as well as make all the difference in planning military air operations, particularly in tropical north-east Queensland.
Krystelle Venn is the manager of the Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) Townsville Defence Weather Service Office (DWSO) and has been a meteorologist for 12 years.
During that time, she has worked with the Royal Australian Navy, a private weather company, and now BOM.
Ms Venn said DWSO's role was to provide decision-support services to the Army's 5th Aviation Regiment at RAAF Base Townsville.
“We draw from current forecasts and global weather models to gain an understanding of what weather elements may affect the regiment,” Ms Venn said.
“Our services include providing interactive verbal briefs to discuss uncertainties and alternative scenarios.”
Ms Venn said BOM was uniquely positioned to understand the regiment's operations.
“My staff use those insights to provide tailored, expert assessments of conditions relevant to their priorities and vulnerabilities,” she said.
“An example of this would be where we forecast thunderstorm activity in the Townsville area.
“It is vital we track any storm development closely through the day and keep the 5th Aviation Regiment informed of the movement and timing of thunderstorm cells.
“Lightning approaching the airfield can be life-threatening to aviators, as well as ground crew working on or refuelling parked aircraft.”
Ms Venn said DWSO’s advice supported decisions about operational windows for flying, and whether to ground and/or shelter aircraft.
“I love the diversity and the challenge of my role working in support of the ADF,” Ms Venn said.
“There is a sense that I am playing a niche but integral part in keeping aircrew safe, ensuring the effectiveness of their activities and optimising the regiment's potential flying hours.”