LAKELAND (FOX 13) - NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters barely got a break after tracking Hurricane Harvey. Now they’re busy punching their way through Hurricane Irma.
The Florida-based teams fly missions into tropical storms and hurricanes, dropping sensors and taking radar readings as they fly. The result is a three-dimensional picture of the storm and its surrounding environment, which is invaluable to forecasters as they try to figure out both the track and intensity of a storm.
Hurricane Irma is still several days out – too far to say with any certainty how it will impact the U.S. – but after the destruction left behind by Hurricane Harvey, the new storm is making a lot of people nervous. Data gathered by these flights should help millions of residents know if and when they need to prepare.
A member of the Hurricane Hunters team shared a time-lapse video from Sunday’s flight showing what it’s like to ride along aboard the WP-3D aircraft, better known as ‘Kermit.’ The footage shows a routine takeoff and flight – until the storm loom larger and larger. The plane’s red-filled radar can be seen in one corner of the video and eventually the plane is swallowed by clouds and rain.
NOAA expects daily flights into the storm to continue for several days, as will similar flights by the Air Force's 53rd Weather Research Squadron out of Mississippi.