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Hurricane Hunters prepare to gather data on Tropical Storm Laura, TD14

Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:52:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The current storm season is keeping the Hurricane Hunters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration very busy.

They have two planes deployed to St. Croix for flights into Tropical Storm Laura. They also have a Gulfstream flying out of Lakeland.

A spokesperson for one of the teams says, due to the nature of storms, they're ready to go 24/7.

"It only takes one storm to really ruin your day, whether its an active season or inactive season," said Jonathan Shannon, the Public Affairs Specialist for NOAA.

Flying into storms day and night, the Hurricane Hunters gather crucial data used to create forecasts.

Planes and crews are based in Lakeland, Florida and Keesler Air Force Base.

They'll fly thousands of miles crisscrossing storms and dropping scientific devices to figure out where a storm is forming and where it's heading.

Shannon says they've had to make some adjustments this year with the pandemic in place.

"We've been following the CDC guidelines using minimum crews on our missions to make sure they're safe," said Shannon. "We just have to be flexible."

They'll fly just 500 feet above the water to get weather readings as storms are just beginning.

They'll go all the way up to 10,000 feet in the biggest storms to get important data that they send back to the National Hurricane Center.

There's another team that flies out of Biloxi Mississippi to check out Tropical Depression Fourteen.

All these missions gather crucial data that affects the forecast track of each storm.