October 13, 2020
Ask Storm Team 11: Why are hurricane hunters important?
Tuesday’s Ask Storm Team 11 question was: “Why do people fly into hurricanes?
The U.S. Air force started taking missions into tropical systems in the 1940s during World War II.
Today, these hurricane hunters play a very important role as they fly directly into the eye of the storm using radar data on the aircraft to help them navigate.
They fly at altitudes of 10,000 feet or less to collect data satellites can’t see by releasing dropsondes, an instrument that measures things like temperatures, pressure, wind and humidity.
This data is immediately analyzed and helps improve the forecast for an area so residents can better prepare for a potential hurricane that’s heading their way.
NOAA also has a squadron to survey the atmospheric conditions surrounding a storm sometimes flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet. This gives us a better understanding of the steering patterns in different parts of the atmosphere.
Just last week data from hurricane hunters indicated the storm that eventually became Hurricane Delta intensified by more than 60 mph in just 24 hours.
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