The “Hurricane Hunters” of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron wrapped up the 2019 hurricane season at the end of November, having flown more hours this year than the previous year.
The WC-130s of the Keesler AFB, Miss.-based unit flew more than 684 hours, an increase from 2018’s 655 but far less than the more than 800 it flew in 2017. This year’s total included 80 missions into nine storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific, according to a Keesler release.
While the hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, the squadron had an early start flying into Sub Tropical Storm Andrea on May 20.
“This season was unusual, we were busy, but not by the number of storms. It was busy by how they all fell into place,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Wilmot, the director of operations for the 53rd WRS, in the release. “What made this season difficult for us were the threats to Bermuda, it’s a long flight from here, so to stretch way out there from here made it difficult operating out of home station.”
For example, the squadron flew 14 days of operations during Hurricane Dorian, operating from Curacao; Homestead ARB, Fla.; and Keesler.
Though the hurricane season is over, the squadron will stay busy flying into winter storms along with atmospheric river missions and training flights, according to Keesler.