Millions of people across the Caribbean, Latin America and the U.S. coastline depend on the science that’s gathered from planes that fly through hurricanes.
The big picture: I had a chance this past weekend to fly on a NOAA Hurricane Hunter flight into Hurricane Lee. Here’s what I learned.
How it works: During these missions, scientists are sending back, in real time, 50 to 100 GB of data about the storm — the basics, like rainfall, wind speed and barometric pressure, but also scores of other data points.
By the numbers: NOAA runs, on average, 300-400 flight hours total between its two aircraft each hurricane season.
What they’re saying: “We are just people who love the coast,” said flight director Jack Parrish, who told me that when he started these flights more than 40 years ago, forecasts of hurricanes were limited to three days out.
Details: Kermit, a Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft, was acquired by NOAA in 1975 and started flying through storms in 1976.