MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - In the Regional Meteorology and Oceanography Center at Cherry Point, walls lined with charts and television screens display the current and upcoming weather forecast for the entire East Coast.
Every desk is filled with a Marine hard at work, monitoring the weather and writing briefs for pilots and Cherry Point and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing senior leadership.
The office is not a quiet place. Phones ring with pilots on the line asking about the weather before take off, and the analysts constantly talk to each other to pass information back and forth.
Teamwork and communication are the most important aspects for the team of Marines at the center, who are on a constant 24-hours-a-day rotation.
“Teamwork is such a big deal here,” said Staff Sgt. Rusty Albaral, a training staff noncommissioned officer at the center and a meteorology and oceanography analyst forecaster of 19 years. “We are reliant on each other all the time. We have to make sure that we pass the right information to one another so we can do our jobs proficiently.”
Working at the center can be a fast-paced environment for the analyst forecaster Marines. The pace picked up when Hurricane Sandy made its way along the East Coast and Cherry Point leaders relied on the analysts to provide constant updates so they were more prepared in case the hurricane hit the air station.
“When Hurricane Sandy started along the East Coast, we continued to do our job, just at a much faster pace,” said Lance Cpl. Zachery A. Reifsnider, an analyst forecaster at the center and an assistant watch leader. “We were having to brief pilots and senior leaders on the weather constantly.”
Reifsnider said that on a normal day they have about 3 hours to write briefs for pilots, but when Sandy posed a threat, they had only about 30 minutes to an hour to provide the reports.
In addition to covering the weather forecasts for Cherry Point, the Marines at the center help monitor the weather for other Marine Corps installations on the East Coast including New River, Beaufort, Lejeune, and Quantico.
“It’s a big job to take on, but I like working here,” said Reifsnider. “The responsibility that comes with this career is huge. Pilots cannot fly until they have a current weather brief from us about the route they are flying. There are a lot of people who depend on us.”
Hurricane Sandy has passed Cherry Point and her forceful winds and rain are no longer a threat to the air station. For most of the Marines on the air station, this means they are no longer worried about the weather. For the analysts at the center, it changes nothing.
The team of Marines is still on a 24-hour watch, and they still provide constant weather updates.
“Whether there is a routine storm or a hurricane coming in, it doesn’t change our mission, which is to provide constant surveillance of the weather at all times,” said Reifsnider. “The pace might pick up from time to time, and it might slow down. Whatever happens, we will be here carrying out our mission so others can carry out theirs.”