New weather sensor debuts at 11th MEU

27 Nov 2007 | Sgt. Eric McLeroy 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit's weather observer doesn't have to look at the sky or calculate temperature and wind speed to make a weather observation - he pushes a button.

The MEU's Meteorological Support Team, comprised of a staff sergeant and corporal, recently welcomed a new addition, the Capricorn 2000 weather station. It can display information, perform complex computations, and store relatively large amounts of weather data on a touch-screen display, saving time and manpower for the 11th MEU weather team.

The new weather station continually gathers information from a sensor-laden, aluminum tripod and the data is transmitted to an LCD screen similar to a laptop. The system measures and displays wind chill, dew point, heat index, rain rate, and barometric pressure. It also measures rain for the day, the week, the month and the year; and one-minute wind speed average and wind speed gust.

Normally, a weather observer would make a weather observation every hour, and manually make his calculations. The observer looks at the sky and determines cloud elevation and uses three thermometers to measure wet bulb index temperature, air temperature and humidity. These hourly observations are then used to forecast weather conditions, but with the addition of the new weather station, an accurate weather forecast and observation is available on a continuous basis.

"A good observer can get a complete weather observation in about 15 minutes," Cpl. Aaron States, weather observer, Command Element, 11th MEU, said. "This new gear updates information all the time."

Recent and accurate weather reports play a key role in mission planning, according to States. The weather directly affects individual Marines, vehicles, aircraft, and weapon systems. The Meteorological Support Team is responsible for briefing these conditions to mission commanders.

"Weather observations are more than sunny skies and cloud cover," States said. "There is much more as far as the MEU is concerned. For example, the amount of ground moisture in an area is important (because its affect on) vehicle movement. Every time the MEU conducts an operation, we prepare briefs and continuously update them."

The new system is also compatible with the teams existing software allowing for immediate access to current weather conditions. Besides its capacity for briefs, the weather system can be used at helicopter forward arming and refueling points, according to States.

During long-range flights, pilots are instructed to land at prepositioned refueling stations. The meteorological support team along with the weather station will be deployed to these sites, because pilots rely on current weather conditions for take-offs and landings due to the effect wind, temperature, and pressure have on aircraft.

The system is capable of operating in extreme temperature and wind conditions making it ideal for use in the regions where the MEU will be deployed. Throughout 11th MEU's upcoming deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf regions, the meteorological support team will test the systems applications and incorporate them into the section's operating procedures.

The new system offers a variety of advantages to the two-man weather team, according to States, but can't duplicate the work of a "well-calibrated brain".

"I can get a lot of information from looking at the sky and the local surroundings that the sensors can't," States said. "Many people have a good general knowledge of weather, but that's only the thunder, the real power is in the lightning. There are so many variables involved, and the weather affects so much more than what people realize. Our job is important and at times it can become really difficult."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarrĀ enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Read Biography