Date:6 September 2017
Buckled into a WP-3D Orion turboprop, they brave the wildest of conditions – for science. This time they head into the eye of Hurricane Irma.
By Eric Limer
The worst turbulence you’ve ever gripped your armrests through is nothing compared to what NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters fly directly into. Yesterday, before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Carribean, the Hunters went out for a rendezvous, flying through the tumult and into the eye of the storm. The footage, posted to Twitter, is incredible.
Watch at the team head into Hurricane Irma
Some photographs of Hurricane Irma
The NOAA’s main storm-faring vehicles—the “Hurricane Hunters” themselves—are a pair of Lockheed WP-3D Orion turboprop aircraft, each kitted out with three different kinds of weather radar as well as the capability to deploy “dropwindsondes,” disposable sensor capsules that collect data as they fall through the storm.
The two planes, nicknamed “Kermit” and “Miss Piggy,” have been flying with NOAA since 1975 and recently went in for a $35-million tune-up that saw each outfitted with new wings and engines, probably a good idea after 10,000 hours of flight in 80 different hurricanes.
As Irma passed over the Caribbean early Wednesday morning, it did so with sustained winds of 185 mph but there have been no immediately reported injuries. And as it continues to barrel towards the mainland, the information gathered by these flights will prove crucial to help folks prepare. So the next time you get a little shaking on takeoff, remember that some people deal with much worse—on purpose.
From: PM USA