Hurricane Hunters Fly Into Tropical Storm Erika

Reservists with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into Tropical Storm Erika from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and now have moved to Homestead ARB, Fla., to continue flights into Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, according to a press release. The unit, assigned to the 403rd Wing at Keelser AFB, Miss., fly WC-130J Hurricane Hunters to gather data for the National Hurricane Center to use in predicting the path of destructive storms. “Other observation systems help but don’t give you the whole story,” said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, senior meteorologist with the 53rd WRS. “From satellites, you can see a hurricane and the eye of the hurricane,” he said, but satellites can’t measure the exact wind speed on the surface or the central pressure. “The only way to get the ground truth data is to fly an aircraft into the storm,” he said. Data gathered by the Hurricane Hunters helps improve the accuracy of NHC predictions by 20 percent, he said.