To kick off National Hurricane Preparedness week, the U.S. government sent two hurricane hunter aircraft to Ellington Field today. It was a rare opportunity for the public to interact with crews and support staff, and to tour some impressive displays of technology. See pics below.
Hurricane Hunter Aircraft on Display at Ellington Field
The versatile WP-3D – “Orion” turboprop aircraft is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, radars, and recording systems for both in-situ and remote sensing measurements of the atmosphere, the earth, and its environment. Orion aircraft collects low-altitude data to fill gaps in data not available from ground-based radar or satellite imagery.
A crew member described the aircraft as a flying MRI machine that can see into the heart of storms.
The WC-130J is a high-wing, medium-range aircraft used in several weather reconnaissance missions throughout the year. The Air Force configured this plane to penetrate tropical disturbances and storms, hurricanes and winter storms. It is equipped with meteorological instruments and radar to obtain data on the current development, movement, size and intensity of these systems.
The aircraft carries a minimum crew of five: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, aerial reconnaissance weather officer and weather reconnaissance loadmaster. The crew collects and reports weather data as often as every minute.
In flight, the aircraft drops sondes about every 15 minutes, according to one manufacturer. “Dropsondes play a very important role in the data collection during field projects. They provide data of a near-vertical profile of very remote regions that could otherwise not be be studied. The dropsonde provides actual readings of the atmosphere as it travels downward. Because the device is in contact with the medium that it is measuring, this type of sensing is also called in-situ sensing.” They measure temperature, wind speed, wind direction, moisture, location, atmospheric pressure and more.
Emergency Management Participants
Also present were representatives from NOAA, the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the US Air Force, Harris County Flood Control District, the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, the Red Cross, USAA, and more.
They passed out everything from disaster preparedness guides to hurricane guides, emergency document bags, cloud charts, and stress balls! Good times and sunburns were had by all!
Additional Preparedness Resources
From Houston, the tour moves east to New Orleans, and Mississippi before making two stops in Florida.
In addition to the list of preparedness links I posted yesterday, the handouts today reminded me that I should have posted:
- Harris County Flood Warning System for current and historical rainfall at gages throughout the region, info about historical rainfall and floods, inundation mapping and more.
- HCFCD Hurricane Guide
- Houston Office of Emergency Management Preparedness Guide
The last guide goes beyond hurricanes and covers everything from chemical spills to active shooter incidents.
They’re all worth exploring. But don’t wait until a hurricane is bearing down to explore them. The sites will likely be crowded, the internet down, and response times slow. Also keep in mind that in an emergency, you may need to conserve battery power in your mobile devices. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, parts of the Lake Houston Area lost power for weeks.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/1/2023
2071 Days since Hurricane Harvey