Air Force Tracks, Prepares for Hurricane Irma

Members of the Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron fly into Hurricane Irma to collect data for the National Hurricane Center. USAF photo. USAF photo.

The Air Force is again preparing for another major storm to make landfall, with specially-equipped aircraft keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma as it approaches and at least one base prepare to relocate its aircraft.

Homestead ARB, Fla., on Tuesday moved to Hurricane Condition IV, warning that destructive winds are possible within 72 hours. The base planned to move its F-16s to NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday.

The Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron deployed to St. Croix on Sunday, and have flown multiple missions into Hurricane Irma to help accurately forecast the storm, the 403rd Wing announced.

Air Forces Northern on Monday said it was looking to prepare for Irma following rescue operations after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. As part of those operations, the AFNORTH Air Operations Center coordinated 2,078 search and rescue operations, out of more than 16,800 total individuals rescued by the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a 1st Air Force news release.

The 601st Air Operations Center coordinated an Air Force E-3 Sentry, E-8 Joint Stars, and a Navy E-3 Hawkeye to relay communications is part of the rescue effort.

All told, 2,654 airmen deployed in the response to Hurricane Harvey, with 85 percent of those from the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.