AFNORTH Hurricane Hunters on the move for Gustav & Hanna

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | August 31, 2008

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Eight Hurricane Hunters with five crews on three missions are deployed to assess the severity of conditions of Hurricane Gustav, with one Hurricane Hunter deployed to prepare for Tropical Storm Hanna.

The Hurricane Hunters are Air Force WC-130J aircraft deployed to support Gustav from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and now from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., to predict the path of Hurricane Gustav.

“Hurricane Hunters currently anticipate and determine surface conditions of the expected landfall area,” said Master Sgt. John Williams, operations duty officer at Tyndall’s 601st Air and Space Operations Center.

Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow, the Joint Forces Air Component Commander at Tyndall for Air Forces Northern maintains tactical control and visibility of the Hurricane Hunters for coordination during contingencies.

“The Hurricane Hunters deploy for each major storm to measure vertical atmospheric profile of the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure and wind data ahead of the storm,” said Sergeant Williams.

According to Williams, an instrument called a Global Positioning Dropsonde Windfinding system is dropped 10,000 ahead of the hurricane to take readings and relay those readings to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., which increases the accuracy of hurricane predictions by approximately 30 percent.

“Hurricane season gainfully employs the Hurricane Hunters flying current missions over Guam, the Gulf and Atlantic and provides hurricane data to agencies that need it the most,” he said.

The National Hurricane Center feeds the information to the National Weather Service. Civilian and federal organizations use the data collected by the Hurricane Hunters to get keep the public informed with the latest information.

The Hurricane Hunters are temporarily operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, but they call the 53rd Fighter Wing at Keesler AFB home.

While actively supporting Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna, this month the Hurricane Hunters have also flown missions into Tropical Storm Fay, Tropical Storm Edouard and Hurricane Dolly. For more information contact AFNORTH Public Affairs at 850-283-8657, 850-283-5226 or e-mail afnorthpa@tyndall.af.mil.