LAKELAND, Fla. — Hurricane hunters are getting ready for what’s being predicted to be an above-average hurricane season.
“We’re ready to go no matter what,” Commanding Officer of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center Capt. Chris Kerns said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 14 to 21 named storms will develop in the Atlantic this year, the organization announced Tuesday.
“How many storms there may or may not be, is just a prediction. We're going to be ready to respond and ready to react,” Kerns said.
Kerns told ABC Action News that NOAA hurricane hunters have been preparing for this hurricane season since the last season ended. “Ensuring that the crews are trained, the aircraft are ready, maintained, prepared to go,” he said.
Three of the nine aircraft at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Lakeland are used for hurricane hunting. NOAA hurricane hunters are tasked with either doing research or reconnaissance.
Hurricane hunters are in the storm environment for about six hours, collecting data including strength, pressure, temperature and identifying its center. Kerns said some of the worst flights are tropical storms trying to become a hurricane.
“Those become the most challenging regimes of flight because you’re constantly adjusting power and constantly adjusting the nose altitude to try and make sure the plane stays leveled,” he said.
While the hurricane hunters are in the air, data is transmitted in real-time to the National Hurricane Center for forecasting and models that are used by local meteorologists. What hurricane hunters do is risky yet rewarding.
“Because our crews go out and take those risks, the benefit is this really great information that we implore people to pay attention to," Kerns said. "So, when an emergency manager orders an evacuation, we say please do it because we went out and collected all this data."