Two key weather agencies – NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Weather Service – NWS) and U. S. Air Force are bringing their hurricane hunter aircraft to Naples, FL, today, Fri., May 20, 2016, as part of a week-long Gulf Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour (also known as HAT). The tour started in San Antonio, TX on May 16, with additional stops in Galveston (TX), New Orleans (LA), and Mobile (AL). The agencies have been conducting such tours for 30 years, alternating annually between Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions. The HAT coincides with National Hurricane Awareness Week. The Atlantic Ocean basin hurricane season starts on June 1, 2016.
The HAT visit and associated school programs will be held at the Naples Airport (APF), which is located on Airport-Pulling Road, south of Golden Gate Parkway.
The HAT features some pretty impressive guests. Yes, Dr. Rick Knabb (the National Hurricane Center – NHC director) will lead the list of weather experts. But, hurricane specialists Daniel Brown and John Cangialosi, and an array of Air Force Reserve, NWS and other hurricane and weather preparedness experts will be attending, as well. The real stars, however, will be a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft, both of which are used in hurricane data gathering efforts.
These aircraft probe hurricanes and other tropical weather systems with the potential to develop into hurricanes and gather data across the storm’s environment, including detailed information in and around the storm’s central core (a.k.a., the “eye”). Eye data and eye location are among the key parameters the scientists onboard are “hunting.” Without such detailed hurricane data, forecasting storm development, weakening, track and other attributes would be difficult to impossible. While weather satellites provide invaluable input to the hurricane forecasting process, nothing beats direct measurements from within the storm and it’s near storm surroundings.
The real purpose behind hurricane forecasting is, of course, the saving of life and minimizing property loss. Hence, early watches and warnings become the goal of NOAA’s NHC. But, without early pre-planning on the part of the Nation, states, local communities, businesses and families, any watch or warning would fall on deaf ears. Knabb emphasized, “We all must dedicate ourselves to taking steps now to be ready, long before the next hurricane strikes.”
There are many agencies and organizations dedicated to hurricane awareness and preparedness (see end of article for a listing of some of these and associated links). Some of these will be at the Naples HAT site today.
School aged children and their teachers have the potential to become key spokespeople for family awareness and will be welcomed to the HAT. Look for opportunities to chat with hurricane experts and gather up a potpourri of take-away hurricane literature during the period between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. There will also be a public awareness / preparedness press conference starting around 11:00 a.m.
Students will be able to see the aircraft during their four-hour visitation window; from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the public and media have been invited to tour the aircraft and meet the entire hurricane team.
Some selected web-based hurricane resources
National Hurricane Center – http://www.hurricanes.gov
NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center – http://aoc.noaa.gov
U.S. Air Force 403rd Wing – http://www.403wg.afrc.af.mil/index.asp
National Hurricane Preparedness Week – http://www.hurricanes.gov/prepare
National Weather Service – http://www.weather.gov
Weather Ready Nation – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/
FEMA – www.ready.gov
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) – www.flash.org
#HurricaneStrong – www.hurricanestrong.org
© 2016 H. Michael Mogil