Weather grounds military exercises in United Kingdom
Stars and Stripes March 11, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL, England — Mother Nature didn’t care too much for the mission here Monday as Air Force planes were grounded while fierce wind and storms rolled across England.
Crosswinds at RAF Mildenhall exceeded acceptable levels of about 30 mph early Monday, prompting the grounding of 100th Air Refueling Wing planes and other aircraft, base representative 1st Lt. Kathleen Ferrero said in an e-mail.
Wind gusts reached 43 knots, or about 50 mph, at Mildenhall on Monday, she said.
The F-15 fighter jets with the 48th Fighter Wing at nearby RAF Lakenheath also were grounded in the morning due to the high winds, according to base spokeswoman Airman 1st Class Torri Ingalsbe.
A few jets were cleared to fly early Monday afternoon, she said, but conditions later in the day would dictate if more would take to the skies.
Operations weren’t affected and no damage was reported as of Monday afternoon to the various Air Force bases across the U.K. that fall under the 501st Combat Support Wing, unit spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Kristina Barrett said.
As of Monday afternoon, U.S. personnel near RAF Fairford saw the worst of the wind, with some gales hitting 46 knots, or about 53 mph, according to Air Force Capt. Matthew Hauke of the 21st Operational Weather Squadron.
Gusts of about 40 mph were seen elsewhere in England throughout the day, he said.
The storm began moving into continental Europe on Monday, with residents of Spain and France expected to see the worst of the rain and wind, Hauke said.
Folks in Germany can expect thunderstorms and winds of about 25 knots, or 30 mph, Monday night and Tuesday, he said, with the potential for winds up to 40 mph.
Most of the storm’s brunt will be seen Monday night and Tuesday morning, he said.
“We’re going to be in a very windy pattern for at least two or three days,” Hauke said.
Italy shouldn’t be hit too hard by this system, but people can expect winds of about 25 mph with rain over the next couple days, according to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Belt of the 21st OWS.
“If [storm systems] go through Germany, the Alps do a good job of busting them up,” before they hit Italy, Belt said.
A low-pressure system from the States is to blame for all the nastiness. The same system that brought blizzards to the U.S. last week is now hitting Europe, Hauke said.
“It came racing across the Atlantic in a short period of time,” he said. “We’re kind of in a bad pattern right now.”
Inside or outside the fence, it was a day of power outages, delays and meteorological misery throughout the U.K. on Monday.
Winds of more than 80 mph were reported, flights were canceled and thousands of residents in western England and Wales woke without power after falling trees crashed through power lines, British media reported.
While the most severe weather happened out west, authorities in Suffolk County, where the majority of U.S. airmen are based in England, counted 83 weather-related calls between midnight and noon Monday.
The majority concerned knocked-over trees that were blocking roads, according to Suffolk Constabulary representatives.
The highest wind speed as of Monday afternoon was 82 mph at Berry Head in Brixham, according to a report in the U.K. newspaper The Independent.
The U.K. Environment Agency issued 36 flood warnings throughout England and Wales Monday, The Telegraph newspaper reported.