North America

'Hurricane Hunters' fly into the eye of Florence


Meet the US "Hurricane Hunters" gathering crucial data about the fiercest storms.

As the outer edges of Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas, the US Air Force Reserves' "Hurricane Hunters" fly directly into the eye of the storm to gather hard-won data from the weather system's core.

This aircraft, like all of the 53rd's 10 WC-130J planes, are specially equipped to gather meteorological data which is sent to the US National Hurricane Center.

One way of gathering data involves the crew releasing sensors, known as dropsondes, through the belly of the aircraft that, as they fall, transmit storm data including Florence's pressure, wind speed and direction.

The center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast on Saturday afternoon, then drift southwest before moving inland, enough time to drop as much as 40 inches (1 meter) of rain in places, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's "Hurricane Hunters" are based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Despite the severity of storms like Florence and the undeniable danger on the ground, these US flights into hurricanes have an incredible safety record - not one aircraft has been lost in more than four decades. The last time was in 1974.

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