Mississippi-based Hurricane Hunters Ready for Storm SeasonBy Rhonda Miller | Published 12 May 2011 10:10am |
As the June 1 start of hurricane season approaches, it’s important to remember 1,200 people lost their lives in Katrina – about 200 of those deaths were in Mississippi. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the Hurricane Hunters, headquartered at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, are about to go into high gear in their lifesaving work.
Flying with the Hurricane Hunters means boarding a huge gray Air Force plane, taking a seat on the bench and buckling up.
Major Christopher Dyke is one of the meteorologists on board.
"Today’s flight is a training mission, so we’re just going out to the Gulf. These planes have to be ready at any time, especially when we get into hurricane season," Dyke said.
Flight navigator Lt. Col. Mark Stevens says evacuation notices should be taken seriously because they’re based on detailed information from equipment like a dropsonde.
"A dropsonde is a small piece of equipment that we launch out of the aircraft on a parachute," Stevens said. "It weighs about a pound, and it’s essentially a cardboard tube about 15 inches long that contains the same equipment as a weather station."
Thursday's flight for the media is to provide background to be used in times of emergency.
Lt. Col. Valerie Hendry says after 25 years as a meteorologist with the Hurricane Hunters, she’s seen dramatic advancements in technology.
"Even so, the Hurricane Center would rather see the aircraft data, so they know what they’re seeing on satellite is exactly what's there," Hendry said. "It would be like a doctor looking at a photo of you and saying 'Oh, I think you look sick' or 'I think I know what your temperature is.' You want to go in there and get the exact measurements."
When the Hurricane Hunters fly into the eye of the storm, they’ll be sending back measurements that will save lives.
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