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Flying Through The Storm

Hurricane Hunters are words used often during hurricane season. 

Hurricane Hunters are experienced people from the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who fly directly into hurricanes.

They start from the outer edge of the storm all of the way to the eye at the storm's center and out the other side.

On a typical flight, an airplane might do this a half dozen times. The million dollar question some of you may be asking is why?

Weather satellites don't give National Hurricane Center forecasters all of the data they need to predict where and when a storm will hit.

For example, forecasters can estimate a hurricane's strength using satellite images but those images are sometimes off by an entire category.

Meaning that, an estimated category 2 storm could really be a dangerous category 3  which is considered a major hurricane.

Forecasting is not the only reason Hurricane Hunters fly into hurricanes. Another reason is to learn more about what is going on inside the storm.

Scientists aboard the aircraft deploy instruments called GPS (Global Positioning System) dropwindsondes as the P-3 flies through the hurricane.

These devices continuously radio back measurements of pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind direction and speed as they fall toward the sea, providing a detailed look at the structure of the storm and its intensity.

Yes, there is data being collected  from inside storms but there is also data being collected outside the storm and  NOAA's Gulfstream jet often flies over hundreds of miles of ocean around a storm, measuring the winds that are steering it.

This information helps forecasters better predict where a storm is heading. The Gulfstream also flies research missions into the very tops of hurricanes, away from the worst turbulence and rain.

With that said, Hurricane Hunters will be flying into Sandy later today to collect more information on the intensity of the storm.

Sandy has been maintaining a small area of thunderstorm activity near the center. Therefore, there is still potential in the short term for it to intensify. Especially, since it will move over the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream today.

Once this system transforms into an extratropical cyclone or in other words, has lost its tropical characteristics, it  doesn't  mean that we can let our guard down.

The impacts of this super storm will still be great, so please continue to stay alert and be vigilant.




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