Blizzard Watchers

Airmen and two WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft from Air Force Reserve Command’s 403rd Wing at Keesler AFB, Miss., deployed to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, Jan. 17 for a month-long stint in support of NOAA’s annual mission to improve upon forecasting the winter storms that hit the US. The WC-130Js will conduct long-duration flights over the north Pacific at altitudes up to 30,000 feet, collecting data on temperature, wind speed, humidity, and pressure. This data, along with atmospheric measurements made by NOAA’s own Gulfstream G-IV aircraft, operating from Honolulu, will be relayed to NOAA computers for inclusion in weather prediction models. “On average, the data we provide, along with [the NOAA] aircraft, lead to a 10 percent to 20 percent reduction in error in the targeted forecasts,” said Lt. Col. Roy Deatherage, mission commander with the wing’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. (Keesler release)