NOAA & USAF Reserve hurricane team to embark on East Coast Awareness Tour

Public and media invited to tour hurricane hunter aircraft

April 20, 2015

The NOAA G-IV aircraft, used to sample the atmosphere surrounding a tropical cyclone. (Photo credit - NOAA)

The NOAA G-IV aircraft, used to sample the atmosphere surrounding a tropical cyclone. (Photo credit - NOAA)

As part of its efforts to build a Weather-Ready Nation, NOAA’s hurricane experts will tour six Atlantic coastal cities to raise awareness about the importance for preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. Experts will visit cities in the United States and Canada aboard a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft, both of which are used in hurricane forecasting.

"The U.S. was again spared from a major hurricane strike last year, but that does not mean we will be as fortunate during the 2015 season,” said Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. "Hurricanes of any strength and even tropical storms can be life-threatening; particularly due to the dangers of water - both storm surge on the coasts and river flooding from heavy rains many miles inland We’re committed to building a Weather Ready Nation that provides people with the information they need to act.”

Knabb encouraged people to begin preparing now for the start of hurricane season, and said a good start is to find out if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone.

Along with hurricane specialists Daniel Brown and John Cangialosi, Knabb will travel on the two aircraft when they visit Halifax, Nova Scotia; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Norfolk, Virginia; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida; and Marathon, Florida. The public and media are invited to tour the aircraft and meet the team.

WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft flown by USAF Reserve 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron. (Photo credit: NOAA/NHC)

WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft flown by USAF Reserve 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron. (Photo credit: NOAA/NHC)  

The WC-130J is one of ten specially configured aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force Reserve from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Wing, located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When flying a hurricane mission, military air crews fly directly through the eye of the storm several times each flight. They collect and transmit data by satellite directly to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center so that forecasters can analyze and predict changes to the hurricane’s path and strength.

The NOAA G-IV is part of that agency's fleet of highly specialized research and operational aircraft. The G-IV is operated, managed and maintained by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. It flies at high altitude around and ahead of a tropical cyclone, gathering critical data that feeds into hurricane forecast models.

“The Air Force Reserve Command's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron has been supporting the nation's hurricane warning program for 72 years,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Talbot,
53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron chief meteorologist. “The East Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour gives us the opportunity to partner with NOAA and help increase public awareness concerning the threat hurricanes posed to coastal areas and showing the equipment we use to get the job done and keep our crews safe."

Staff from local emergency management offices, FEMA, non-profit organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and several local NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices will join various stops on the tour.

NOAA has conducted the hurricane awareness tour for more than 30 years, alternating between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. The tour is followed by NOAA’s hurricane hazard education campaign during National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 24 to 30. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.

Public Tour Schedule:

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.