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Public Invited to Tour "Hurricane Hunter" Aircraft

NOAA image collage of students visiting a NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft during the 2006 hurricane awareness tour.April 9, 2007 As part of a joint U.S. Air Force and NOAA National Weather Service initiative, NOAA National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza and Senior Hurricane Specialist Lixion Avila, Ph.D., will travel aboard a U.S. Air Force Reserve Command WC-130J "Hurricane Hunter" Hercules aircraft during a six-day, six-city tour of the Caribbean region to raise public awareness of the Atlantic hurricane threat. (Click NOAA image collage for larger view of students visiting a NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft during the 2006 hurricane awareness tour. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The public, school groups and media are invited to tour the aircraft and speak with Proenza, Avila and the "Hurricane Hunter" crew. Beginning April 16, the tour includes Mexico, Grand Cayman Island, Dominican Republic, St. Croix and Puerto Rico.

"Even though we did not have a lot of activity last year, we remain in an active hurricane cycle and need to continue our preparation and planning efforts," said Proenza. "The focus of this tour is protecting communities through preparedness and awareness."

It takes a team effort to forecast and respond to a hurricane, including weather observations from World Meteorological Organization countries, aircraft reconnaissance, satellites, computer models, local weather forecast offices and dedicated meteorologists.

The "Hurricane Hunters" of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, using the latest WC-130J aircraft placed into operation in 2005, gather hurricane position and intensity data by flying directly into the storm and relay vital information from the core of the hurricane to hurricane forecasters.

"When one of these storms threatens landfall in this region, our Citizen Airmen are already gathering and providing the critical data used by the National Hurricane Center to inform local officials, civic leaders and emergency managers," said Brig. Gen. Richard Moss, commander, 403rd Wing.

"Hurricane Hunters" will be adding a new piece of equipment for the 2007 hurricane season called the Stepped-Frequency Microwave Radiometer, a new generation of airborne remote sensing instruments designed for operational surface wind estimation in hurricanes. Addition of the SFMR is expected to provide even more data to forecasters at the NOAA National Hurricane Center to improve the analysis of surface intensity and structure of the storm.

"Once the forecast is issued, people must heed the warnings of their local government officials," said Avila. "The time to prepare for a hurricane is now. Once the storm is bearing down, it is too late."

The U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J aircraft will be available to the public for tours during the following hours. (All times local.)
Airport Aircraft on Display
Monday, April 16
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Ingeniero Alberto Acuna Ongay International Airport, Campeche, Mexico
Tuesday, April 17
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Cozumel International Airport, Cozumel, Mexico
Wednesday, April 18
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Owen Roberts International Airport, Grand Cayman Island
Thursday, April 19
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
San Isidro Air Base, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Friday, April 20
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Henry Rohlsen International Airport, St. Croix
Saturday, April 21
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Hurricane Center

NOAA Hurricanes Portal

Media Contact:
Dennis Feltgen, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622