Hurricane Hunters Fly Into The Eye of Matthew

NOAA Hurricane Hunters Fly Into The Storm

While coastlines are evacuated and people flock to shelters to escape the high winds of major storms, Hurricane Hunters fly right into the middle of it.

It can be a wild and dangerous ride, but the information gained is invaluable.

For Hurricane Matthew alone, the National Hurricane Center said the NOAA and Air Force Reserve planes have flown 90 trips into the hurricane's eye to gather information on the strength of the storm.

The planes fly completely through the storm, and each flight includes multiple trips back and forth.

Hurricane Hunters fly into the high winds and drop data-measuring equipment that falls through the storm to the sea below and transmits information about the storm that is used to categorize its strength and make predictions.

In the history of Hurricane Hunter flights, six planes have been lost flying in a storm - five in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic. A total of 53 people have died since the flights began in 1943, according to Weather Underground.

The most recent of those was in 1974 in the South China Sea.

The only plane lost in the Atlantic crashed Sept. 26, 1995, while observing Hurricane Janet. Janet made landfall in Mexico as a Category 5 storm, but was Category 4 at the time the plane was lost.

A Navy plane called Snowcloud Five left Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and crashed in the storm with nine crew members and two Toronto Daily Star journalists on board. All 11 died and the plane has never been found.

The plane's final transmission indicated it was flying at 700 feet in winds of 52 mph. It is not known what wind speed the plane was experiencing when it crashed.

Modern technology has made it so that Hurricane Hunters do not need to fly nearly that low into storms. Today, the lowest flights into the eye of a hurricane are typically around 10,000 feet.

Copyright 2016 WFMY


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