Tuesday, December 6

See how this NOAA plane takes on Hurricane Ian | Digital Trends Spanish

As millions of Floridians braced for the Hurricane Ian a team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) personnel boarded a plane and headed straight for it.

Dramatic video footage captured by NOAA engineer Nick Underwood shows the plane pitching and rolling in serious turbulence as it passes through the hurricane, with a particularly nasty bump taking place at the 2:06 mark.

For this rough ride you just needed nerves of steel and a rock-hard stomach to handle it. Still, to Underwood, the extent of the turbulence seemed like a surprise.

“When I say this was the hardest flight of my career so far, I mean it,” Underwood said in a tweet accompanying the footage. “I’ve never seen bunk beds come out like this. There was coffee everywhere. I had never felt such lateral movement.

Aftermath of the galley. pic.twitter.com/YsomJw2J5f

— Tropical Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 28, 2022

To be clear, the NOAA team didn’t fly into the eye of the storm for fun. Instead, the aircraft, essentially a high-flying weather station, collected data to help forecasters make accurate predictions. The data is also delivered to researchers looking to learn more about storm processes, which in turn can help improve forecast models.

The plane Underwood and his team flew aboard was one of two NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion planes, with this one in particular nicknamed Kermit.

Scientists on these missions deploy GPS drop wind probes, parachute-equipped scientific instruments, which are launched from the aircraft as it flies through the hurricane.

“These instruments continuously transmit measurements of pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind direction and speed as they fall out to sea, providing a detailed look at storm structure and intensity,” Explain the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations on its website. Meanwhile, the P-3’s tail Doppler radar and lower fuselage radar systems scan the storm vertically and horizontally, giving scientists and forecasters a real-time view of the storm. The P-3s can also deploy probes called bathythermographs that measure the temperature of the sea.

“In addition to conducting research to help scientists better understand hurricanes and other types of tropical cyclones, NOAA P-3s participate in storm reconnaissance missions when NOAA’s National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center orders it. The purpose of these missions is primarily to locate the center of the storm and measure the central pressure and surface winds around the eye.”

NOAA also tweeted some amazing satellite images showing widespread thunderstorms within Hurricane Ian.

Ace #HurricaneIan churns near Cuba, #GOESEast can see its distinct eye as well as #lightning flashing around the storm.#Ian is a major Category 3 #hurricane that is continuing to strengthen in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Latest: https://t.co/FYrreOueMf pic.twitter.com/Rh85xqu0Rt

— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian left Cuba without power after hitting the island on Tuesday. At the time of this writing, it’s too early to tell the full extent of Hurricane Ian’s impact on Florida, but the storm’s ferocity suggests there will be some serious damage.

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