Hurricane Airplane Recon

Hurricane Airplane Recon
By: Ben


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sends out aircraft recon into hurricanes and other storms. The airplanes drop expendable probes into various environments from calm weather to a hurricane eye wall. In recent years, the primary expendable probe has been the GPS dropwindsonde, a meteorological instrument that drops from the airplane, down to the ocean surface, transmitting information back to the airplane while it is still in the air. The GPS dropwindsonde measures air temperature, dew point, atmospheric pressure, and use the GPS positioning to detect wind speed. This data is transmitted twice per second while the probe is in the air.

The data is then sent to the NOAA which they use to predict the storm’s direction, intensity and the damage it will cause. This is all combined to bring everyone the hurricane forecasts that many lives rely on. The data is also used to make hurricane warnings and watches. If these planes were not sent out by the NOAA we would have to rely on satellite alone to predict a hurricane. The predictions would be later and less accurate. These planes help save thousands of lives by doing their job every hurricane season.

These Hurricane planes are very important live saving devices. The airplanes and their GPS dropwindsondes collect the data that weather forecasts give to you. Without them hurricanes like Katrina might have hit when we weren't prepared for it. The effects of an unpredicted hurricane can be devastating like those that happened before satellites were invented. The NOAA Airplane Recon missions save lives and are very helpful to forecasters.


NOAA’s “Hurricane Hunter” AircrafLockheed WP-3D Orion

Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV)

Hurricane Katrina Eye Wall (seen from airplane)


Need Flash Player
NOAA center

Inside The Eye


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