(Photo taken by NOAA in Honolulu of “Kermit” the WP-3D )
As Hawai’i prepares for Hurricane Lane, a rare category 4 in the pacific let’s look at the specialized fleet of NOAA’s aircraft!
The WP-3D “Orion”
The WP-3D is a multi engine turbo prop aircraft, based off the P-3 “Orion” this modified aircraft flies into the hurricane collecting data. NOAA’s WP-3D Orions are equipped with a unique array of scientific instrumentation, radars and recording systems for measurements of the atmosphere, the earth and its environment. Obtained as new aircraft from the Lockheed production line in the mid-70s, these robust and well maintained aircraft have led NOAA’s continuing efforts to monitor and study hurricanes and other severe storms, the quality of the atmosphere, oceanographic conditions, and climate trends.
The aircraft, nicknamed “Kermit” (N42RF) and “Miss Piggy” (N43RF) have supported hurricane and tropical storm research in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific. Kermit is currently in Honolulu.
(photo cred NOAA)
Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV)
NOAA’s Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) jet is a high-tech, high-flying, and high-speed platform used for hurricane forecasting and research. The G-IV flies around and over developing tropical cyclones to create a detailed picture of the surrounding upper atmosphere.
The G-IV is a sophisticated twin-engine jet piloted by NOAA Corps officers and crewed by NOAA civilian engineers and meteorologists. Its primary mission is to fly tropical cyclone surveillance missions to support National Hurricane Center forecasts and research by the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s. With a range of nearly 4,000 nautical miles and a cruising altitude of 45,000 feet, this aircraft provides observational coverage at high altitudes critical for defining weather systems in the upper atmosphere.
(photo cred NOAA)
53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
The 53rd WRS is based in Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi operating 10 WC-130Js, which use the callsign “Teal” The WC-130Js are modified C-130s which are the only manned weather reconnaissance unit in the Department of Defense.
(photo cred US Air Force)
Here’s some video of the hunters:
US Air Force’s Hurricane hunter