Atlanta News First flies with Hurricane Hunters through eye of Ian

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:20 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 11:15 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A crew with Atlanta News First had the opportunity to fly along with scientists in the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunter as they passed through the eye of Hurricane Ian as it made landfall.

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Posted by CBS46 on Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The WC-130 passed through the hurricane’s eye several times on what is called “shore patrol.”

“I’ve done about 100 flights and about 20 storms,” said Steven Jayne, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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Jayne was one of several scientists above the chaos of the hurricane, working to find where it will go next.

“People think you’re crazy, like, ‘Oh my god, you’re flying through that strong of winds,’” said Jayne.

The crew uses different tools to monitor the storm, like trackers called sondes to drop from the plane.

“It measures the ocean’s temperature profile, so we launch them out the back of the plane, they fall to the ocean’s surface, drop a small probe that falls in the ocean and measures the ocean’s temperature,” said Jayne.

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Other ones go out like weather balloons to check wind speed. The plane’s wings also have special sensors to track wind and location.

“We verified the National Hurricane Center has had it as a Cat. 4 and we’ve seen those winds,” said Lt. Christina Pereda, an aerial reconnaissance weather officer for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

All of these efforts combine to create the hurricane track and cone.

“Before the storm, all this data goes into the forecast models, so that’s super important because that can help the forecasters with the National Hurricane Center with their forecast track and intensity,” said Lt. Pereda.

And even though they’re above it all, these scientists are driven by the impact below

“I grew up in Florida, so part of it is knowing being there, we’re helping get this data out to forecast and help narrow down where the storm is going to hit so people can evacuate,” said Lt. Pereda.

The plane will not go back into Ian while it is over land due to turbulence but the National Hurricane Center will continue to study the data collected by Wednesday’s mission.