Breakdown: Why people fly into hurricanes

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 10:14 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The 2020 hurricane season has been one of the most active in recent history. With many named storms, this means more missions and people are flying into hurricanes this year over years past. In this episode of The Breakdown, we explain why people fly into hurricanes.

The United States has been flying into tropical systems since the 1940s. Each year, Hurricane Hunters fly about around one hundred missions. These flights can last upwards of 10 hours as people fly into the storm to learn more about about hurricanes.

Data is collected during these flights to obtain important information regarding the strength and various movements of tropical systems. This vital informing can help us better plan and prepare for storms that could impact the United States mainland.

The hurricane hunter fleet is composed of thirteen planes, 10 from the air force and three from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most of the missions, the planes fly directly into the eye or center of circulation several times during the course of an 8 to 10 hour mission.

The data is collected in the lowest 10,000 feet of the atmosphere with remote censors and instruments that are referred to as a dropsonde. As the dropsondes fall down toward the ocean, they measure a variety of weather elements like temperature, pressure, wind, and humidity.

The data is recorded approximately every half second until reaching the ocean. The data collected from the dropsondes goes straight to the National Hurricane Center, where scientists analyze the data.

This data helps with warnings and help us know how strong storms are, size and structure, which helps with warnings and keeping us prepared.

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