Breakdown: Hurricane Hunters: What they do & why it is important

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 2:23 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 1:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Hurricane Hunters have a unique yet scary job as they fly directly into tropical systems to gain important information on tropical systems. They fly aircraft into the eye of the storm several times while collecting data from the storm. There missions can last up to 11 hours! The planes crisscross through the storm several times from 1,000 to 10,000 feet before returning.

The two organizations that fly these missions are the US Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Some of the missions have been flown by the Navy units and other Air Force and NOAA units. There are other organizations like Government Flying Service Hong Kong which are apart of the US Air Force.

Hurricane Hunters gather like where the center of a storm is located. This information is important because that information and pressure is put into their models and that can help with more accurate model forecast.

One of the main instruments used by the Hurricane Hunters to gather weather data is called a dropsonde. A dropsonde is dropped from plane height and while it falls, it collects pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed. This will give more detail about what’s going on in the atmosphere from the height of the aircraft all the way to the surface of the ocean.

Once the data is received, it is check for accuracy and then relayed from the plane to the National Hurricane Center, which is then used to create the forecast track of the tropical system. Approximately 15 dropsondes are sent out during a flight. Dropsonde may also be sent by the crew if they spot something they think warrants sampling like a heavy rain band or maximum winds.

This is important information, that allows meteorologist to see what is happening inside the storm, as well as the surrounding environment. This data can help to better predict where the storm will go and can increase tropical forecast accuracy by 30 percent.

The bravery of the Hurricane Hunters helps increase accuracy and saves lives.

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