Slow Season for USAF Hurricane Hunters

The Air Force Reserve Command’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., flew a record low number of hurricane tracking flights this past winter, states a base release. In fact, it was the “fourth slowest winter weather reconnaissance season on record,” according to a report from the Chief Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination All Hurricanes unit at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The National Weather Service typically tasks the 53rd WRS to gather data while flying over the Pacific Ocean, but did not do so this past winter in order to develop an analysis for cost-effectiveness, states the April 7 release. “The low number of flight taskings can partly be attributed to the fact that many of this year’s storms moved West to East over land and did not start over water where reconnaissance flights could have benefited the forecasts,” said John Pavone of CARCAH. The 53rd WRS had deployed previously to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to track hurricanes. “The models used by the National Weather Service are becoming more sophisticated and better at analyzing future conditions over North America,” said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, 53rd WRS chief meteorologist.