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Hurricane Hunters - Heroes Fly into the Eye of the Storm
Heroes Fly into the Eye of the Storm in Special Aircraft
As far as I am concerned, the crew of Hurricane Hunter aircraft are unsung heroes of public safety. Without them, we would have far less warning of and information about monster storms that wreak devastation on landfall.
These men and women are beyond brave! And, they do it all in the name of public safety and advancing mankind's scientific knowledge of, and ability to more accurately forecast these incredible weather systems.
Have you ever been on an airline flight that encountered a little turbulance? Now, imagine flying right into the eye of a vicious hurricane, and doing it on purpose. They must have nerves (and stomachs!) of steel!
About Hurricane Hunters
The Pilots and Crew on These Aircraft are Real Heroes
Hurricane Hunters are special aircraft that fly into tropical cyclones. They collect data from inside the weather system, including barometric pressure and wind speed and direction. What they find helps weather forecasters to perform more accurate center tracking, and advise the public of the system's movement and intensity.
Because of the dedicated work of the highly trained crew, who are also often referred to as Hurricane Hunters, forecasting accuracy has increased by as much as 25% over the years. Earlier public warnings of approaching systems have also been made possible by the combined data collected by weather satellites and the folks who fly into the storms.
There are two main squadrons of Hurricane Hunters:
The U.S. Airforce Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, based in Biloxi, Mississippi. They fly WC-130J aircraft.
The NOAA Hurricane Hunters, based at McDill Airforce Base in Tampa, Florida, flying two different types of planes - the NOAA G-IV Gulfstream, and Lockheed WP-3D Orions.
Flying Into Hurricane Irene - Stormy Flight!
See the view from inside the aircraft as it flies through Hurricane Irene, as well as what is going on inside the plane.
Types of Tropical Weather Systems
That Go Into
Hurricane Hunters fly into ALL of the following types of tropical systems:
1 - Areas of "disturbed weather" with potential to develop into a tropical cyclone.
2 - Tropical Depressions with maximum sustained winds of less than 39 mph.
3 - Tropical Storms, with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph
4 - Category 1 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph
5 - Category 2 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph
6 - Category 3 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph
7 - Category 4 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph
8 - Category 5 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds in excxess of 155 mph
Once something has an identified low level center of circulation, it is a tropical cyclone. This means that, on the above list, all of the weather systems except the first one are tropical cyclones.
Hurricanes of Category 3 and higher are referred to as Major Hurricanes.
Fateful Flight into Hurricane Janet - Stormchasers Who Disappeared in the Line of Duty
Being a hurricane hunter is not without risk. In 1955, an aircraft flew into Hurricane Janet, and was never seen again. This book tells more than their story, though. It also tells a lot about what we have learned about hurricanes. Find out how those brave enough to to iinside these weather monsters have played a big part in gaining that knowledge that has helped us all..
These Planes and Their Crews Stay Busy
They Research Inclement Weather Year Round
The Hurricane Hunters got real busy real early in the 2012 season - and from coast to coast, too!
Even before the official start of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, the had already flown into Pacific Hurricane Bud off the west coast of Mexico, and Tropical Storm Beryl, off the southeast coast of the United States. It seems hurricanes aren't too good at reading calendars, and sometimes crop up before the start or after the end of the season. (The season runs from June 1 through November 30.)
During the 'off season' of December through May, these folks don't just sit around twiddling their thumbs - or propellers. During the months of November through April, they fly over-water winter storm weather reconnaissance missions.
Katrina's Eyewall from a NOAA P-3
Who Flies on Hurricane Hunter Aircraft?
Five or Six Brave Souls
There are five to six crew members on a Hurricane Hunter aircraft for the flights that can last up to 11 or 12 hours, much of that time through turbulence. A TYPICAL CREW:
A flight engineer
A dropsonde system operator
An aerial reconnaissance weather officer.
On occasion, though not often, there is a guest aboard, usually a meteorologist or a reporter, a NOAA official, or someone like that.
It sounds dangerous, but the safety record of these flights is astounding, with only one aircraft having been totally lost in over 50 years. One other was severely damaged, but still made it home with all crew safe.
In 2013, there were 13 named storms - fewer than predicted.
Only two of those thirteen strengthened into hurricanes.
What will 2014 bring?
Would You Fly Into the Eye of the Storm? - Would You Ride in on of These Airplanes?
I am fascinated by tropical weather systems. I sometimes wish I had persued a career in Meteorology. It's a little late for that now (I doubt I would enjoy the intense emphasis on calculus at my age.)
I WOULD still love to fly with the Hurricane Hunters - just once. I think I might be able to handle flying into a Category 1 or 2 hurrciane. (MAYBE)
How about you? Would you like to have the experience of going along on one of their flights?
Would You Like to Fly on a Hurricane Hunter Mission?
Photos of Hurricane Hunters
NOAA WP-3D Orion
Air Force Lockheed Martin WC-130J
Hurricane Hunter Video - Collecting Valuable Meteorological Information
This is an excellent informational video on what kind of data is collected by these flying meteorologists when they go into harm's way for us, what that data means, and why it is so important.
Find More Information on These Websites - Hurricane and Hurricane Hunter websites
- Public Awareness:satellites and hurricane hunters
. Public Awareness - Because of satellites and hurricane hunters, locations receive warnings to evacuate from one to two days in advance, whereas in the past, such warnings weren't possible.
- Weather Wiz Kids weather information for kids
A page of general hurricane information for kids, including a section on the hurricane hunters
- Hurricane Hunters Association
this website has a neat photo gallery, too.
- JOBS IN METEOROLOGY
The five primary employers of forecasters and meteorologists are NOAA, the military, TV/ radio stations, education, and consulting meteorology businesses.
About Hurricane Hunters
Riders on the Storm
For younger readers, books about this fascinating topic are far from dull! Many youngsters are fascinated will aircraft of all types. The specially equipped planes and the brave crews who fly in them may be something they'd really like to learn more about In the pages of Hurriane Hunters: Riders on the Storm, children can find out what it's like to go along on a real mission into a real tropical cyclone.
For Younger Children
For Pre-school through Second Grade. Lots of bright pictures. Follows a mission from start to finish.
Hurricane Hunter and Other Wild Science Career Choices
Many teens are starting to think seriously about their future. What career path will they take It may be worth mentioning here that meteorology is a field in which more and more scientists will be needed in the coming yers.
Those with the appropriate skills and education will be in high demand. There's a wide range of opportunity, from the military, to the private sector, to The Weather Channel, and, of course, the National Hurricane Center, for qualified candidates to consider.
Teenagers would like to read about hurricane hunters, and other storm chasers, too. Is your child interested in science? Or would you like for them to be? Maybe this book about "wild science careers" would peak their interest.
TO THE CREWS
OF THE HURRICANE HUNTERS
Some of my other Nature Related Pages
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- What Are Cape Verde Hurricanes?
Cape Verde Hurricanes undergo initial development near the islands of the same name. Some make it across the Atlantic, some don't
August 19 is
National Aviation Day
Be sure to thank a