JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
Joshua Darney, a meteorological technician for the 502nd Operations Support Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, has won the Air Education and Training Command Weather Civilian of the Year Award. He competed against civilians at each AETC installation as well as the weather schoolhouse.
“He is our best technical forecaster,” said John Stevens, the chief of Weather Operations and Darney’s supervisor. “He had a great year.”
In January, Darney made a forecast that he believes was the biggest contributor to him winning the award. Making predictions like that are at the intersection of what makes the job both difficult and rewarding.
That day started off as an ordinary day, but Darney was aware of a synoptic scale storm coming out of the southwest United States. The storm would bring together humidity, upper-level winds and overall instability, which prefigures a thunderstorm, strong winds and large hail later in the evening.
He forecasted that for during a two-hour period, there would be severe thunderstorms. When the storm actually hit, the error in his timing was only a few minutes.
“Using forecast models, surface, or SFC, observations, and satellite data, I decided early that evening to watch for thunderstorm development near the Rio Grande and Texas border, and if storms started firing off, I would issue the warnings for two hours from then, because the storms would be moving at a rapid pace to the northeast,” Darney explained. “It ended up being a good call, as storms marched northeast toward San Antonio, becoming severe as they came into town with both large hail and high winds across JBSA.”
Predicting the weather can be very challenging, but the rewards for the work Darney does are great as well.
“The most challenging part of my job, besides the changing work hours, is trying to come up with a solution that is close to sensible from a chaotic system,” Darney said. “I contribute to the mission of the Air Force by exploiting the weather in such a way that it enables us to ‘Fly-Fight-Win.’”
Darney said he plans to continue building his knowledge to become an even better forecaster.
“I have the opportunity to constantly learn something new every day in a field that is infinite,” Darney said. “I may be able to see weather patterns and make a forecast that has positive results for others.”
Darney career path and road to recognition by AETC have been a long time coming. He served in the Air Force for six years, then became an Air Force civilian employee. He has been in his current position with 502nd Operations Support Squadron for a little over a decade, spending much of that time improving and perfecting his craft, which Stevens said is exemplary.
“Darney won because he is a great weather technician, like all my forecasters,” Stevens said. “A JBSA-Lackland forecaster has won this award five out of the last 11 years. I truly feel we have the best forecasters in Texas.”