Hurricane Florence Watch: USAF Base Evacuations Continue, Staging Operations Expand

F-15s from from Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., were sent to Barksdale AFB, La., on Sept. 11, ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival in the state. Air Force photo by A1C Sydney Campbell.

Air Force bases along the East Coast continued aircraft evacuations on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence approached, while other military locations further inland have become staging areas for the government’s response to the storm.

Shaw AFB, S.C., on Wednesday sent its F-16s to Tyndall AFB, Fla., as the Category 4 storm continued to barrel toward the coastline. The projected course of the storm was adjusted on Wednesday, with Florence now expected to make landfall Friday on the coastline of South Carolina and Georgia. Shaw on Wednesday adjusted its hurricane condition, calling for only mission-essential personnel to report for duty. The base closed its medical facility on Wednesday, along with base schools and childcare facilities.

Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., sent 60 F-15E Strike Eagles and six KC-135s to Barksdale AFB, La., on Tuesday in advance of the storm. In a Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., sent its F-15s to Barksdale AFB, La., on Tuesday in advance of the storm. In a letter to airmen, Col. Donn Yates, commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, urged personnel to remain calm. In advance of the storm, the wing has conducted a “vulnerability assessment” and is calling on only a “minimum group of essential” personnel on base to respond to events, but there is no evacuation order.

The 43d Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope Field, N.C., directed only mission-essential personnel to report to base beginning Thursday, with all others getting administrative leave through Sunday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is staging emergency supplies at Fort Bragg, which is attached to Pope Field.

McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn., is staging aircraft from Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, New York, and Connecticut for potential response to the storm. The base ha also receiving Marine Corps aircraft in advance of the storm making landfall, according to a 134th Air Refueling Wing release.

The West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg is staging tractor-trailers full of emergency supplies that will be dispatched as needed, according to the Wing’s Facebook page.

The Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is continuing to fly into the storm to collect information to more accurately project the storm’s path. As of Tuesday evening, the squadron’s WC-130Js had flown three missions into the storm, with up to five more possible.