It’s (Almost) Hurricane Hunting Season

Airmen with the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., completed their first storm mission of the 2015 season. Although storm season typically runs June 1-Nov. 30, the Hurricane Hunters began tracking what would become Tropical Storm Ana over the Caribbean on May 7. The storm hit the US on May 11, making landfall in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, according to a release. It was downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved inland. Aircrews from the 53rd flew a total of six sorties, averaging six- to eight-hours each, aboard their WC-130J, flying right into the bad weather where they dropped airborne vertical atmospheric profiling systems (AVAPS), commonly known as dropsondes. The devices measure things like wind, temperature, and humidity and relay the information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, which both provides the 53rd WRS its taskings and uses the data it receives every 10 minutes from the dropsondes to improve its own storm tracking models. “There have been tropical storms every month of the year throughout history,” said Maj. Doug Gautrau, an aerial reconnaissance weather officer with the 53rd WRS. “But we’re [always] prepped and ready to get into the game.”