Hurricane hunters brave the storm to collect vital info

Posted: Updated:
RONKONKOMA -

Most pilots spend their careers trying to avoid bad weather, but there are some who go looking for it!

For crews of the 53 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, flying into the worst weather on the planet is part of a very dangerous job.

A typical mission for the squadron runs 8 to 12 hours, and the crew will make several flights right into the eye of the storm - gathering information vital to National Hurricane Center forecasters. 

As the plane flies into the storm it drops instruments that parachute to the surface measuring temperature, humidity, wind speed and pressure. Once in the eye the crew searches for the exact center of the storm and records the lowest pressure.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, collects the data, puts it into model data and comes up with the forecast track that mostly everyone sees at home.

The planes used by 53 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Hurricane Hunter C130s, are not the only aircraft that fly into hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates its own fleet of research planes including a Gulfstream 4, affectionately named Gonzo.

MORE: Extended interview with hurricane hunter Warren Madden
MORE: Extended interview with hurricane hunter Brian Schroeder
MORE: Extended interview with hurricane hunter Rick Knabb

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