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Operation weather front

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Military meteorology at Yuma Proving Ground

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA) - Often times, when we think of jobs in the military, soldiers and those on the frontlines initially come to mind.

But have you ever thought about the military’s meteorologists?

Don't be alarmed if you ever find a Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) radiosonde device in your front yard.

Throughout the year, 4,000 weather balloons attached to radiosondes are launched and can float as far as 200 miles away.

Gabriel Langbauer is not your average weatherman.

You won't find him on your T.V. screen reading off your morning temperatures.

Instead, he’s at YPG launching weather balloons as a lead meteorologist.

Langbauer said, “It’s a very serious thing. It seems so simple just to launch a weather balloon.”

However, the impact of military weather balloons can actually be life or death.

As a meteorologist at YPG, most of Langbauer’s job is safety-based.

The balloons are used to measure temperature, humidity, height, and wind direction for military aircraft and firing munition.

“The winds can actually push [aircraft or munition], of course, quite a bit. They want to be safe as well. They want to make sure that the [aircraft or munition] lands where it's supposed to land and not on Highway 95.”

That’s where the meteorology team comes in to forecast the perfect weather to test military technology.

Langbauer said Yuma is the perfect place to get the job done.

“Most of our fighting these days is in the desert. We’re fighting in the Middle East and this is as good as you’re going to get for assimilation of that.”

No matter if he's counting raindrops or testing the latest drone, Langbauer uses state of the art solar-powered equipment to solve some of the military’s complex weather requests.

He said, “The fascinating thing about my job is how dynamic it is. You come in and you get a different test officer who has a different request every single day."

To learn more about weather balloons and even test one for yourself, YPG invites the community to its 2020 open house event on February 15th.

News / Yuma County

Aziza Shuler

Aziza Shuler joined KYMA in March 2019 wearing many hats including the newest anchor and producer for FOX 9, as well as a multi-media journalist for KYMA.


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