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    Hurricane Hunters fly Florence, provide data to NHC



    Story by Maj. Marnee Losurdo 

    403rd Wing/Public Affairs

    The Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is flying missions into Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean this week.
    The 53rd WRS is the only Defense Department unit that flies reconnaissance missions into severe tropical weather during the hurricane season, June 1 through Nov. 30, to gather data for the National Hurricane Center to improve the center's forecasts and storm warnings.
    The Hurricane Hunters' first mission into Florence was Monday evening. The Hurricane Hunters departed Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Sunday to operate out of Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Savannah, Georgia, for Florence Reconnaissance. Florence became a hurricane Sunday and will impact the Carolinas and Virginia late Thursday and into Friday, according to the NHC.
    The Hurricane Hunters have completed two missions into Florence, now a category four storm, and flew one today, three more tasked and an additional two possible, said Lt. Col. Thomas Moffatt, a navigator for the 53rd WRS.
    Oceans are data sparse environments due to the lack of radar and weather balloons in those areas, and satellite data can be incomplete, so the data the Hurricane Hunters provide is vital, potentially saving lives and property, said Maj. Jeremy DeHart, 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer. During a hurricane, crews fly through the storms at 5,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level, flying through the eye of a storm four to six times to locate the low-pressure center and circulation. During each pass through the center, they release a dropsonde, which collects weather data such as surface winds and pressure on its descent to the ocean surface.
    Each crew has a loadmaster that drops these dropsondes during the mission with the average during a flight being eight to 12 depending on how many times the mission flies through the center of the storm, said 1st Lt. Garrett Black, 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer. The most recent flight saw 10 go out with the average time for the data collected to travel from the dropsonde to the plane to the NHC being 10 minutes.
    Working alongside the U.S. Navy, who are gathering data showing the relationship of the ocean temperature and how it can affect storms, are members of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. These members are releasing the buoys, or Airborne/Air Expendable Bathytherographs, or AXBTs, which collect the data such as water temperature, said Chief Petty Officer Steve Jayne, a U.S. Coast Guard Reserve maintenance engineer.
    Providing this data to the NHC will keep the squadron busy, especially since September is the peak of hurricane season. Last year was the 10th busiest season on record, and this month looks to be a busy one as well. In addition to flying Hurricane Florence, they deployed to Hawaii this month to fly reconnaissance missions into Hurricane Olivia and they are being tasked to fly a low level investigation mission Sept. 12 into a disturbance approaching the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene are also in the Atlantic but the squadron is not tasked to fly those storms.



    Date Taken: 09.11.2018
    Date Posted: 09.11.2018 21:13
    Story ID: 292327

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