Hurricane Hunters head west into 'Odile'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Monteleone
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunters flew into Hurricane Odile Sunday to collect critical weather data for the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Odile formed in the Pacific Ocean and made landfall this morning in Baja, California. After reaching Category 4 strength on Sunday, Odile weakened to a Category 3.

This was the first flight into this storm by the Hurricane Hunters, who went on another reconnaissance flight today.

The Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are assigned to the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The team of reservists collected data to help determine the storm's strength and path. They found that while the projected models showed the storm moving in a more westward direction, it was in fact now moving further north, said Lt. Col. Brian Schroeder, 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer.

During a tropical storm or hurricane, 53rd WRS crews can fly through the eye of a storm up to four to six times. During each pass through the eye, crews release a dropsonde, which collects temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and surface pressure data. The crew also collects surface wind speed data and flight level data. This information is transmitted to the NHC to assist them with their storm warnings and hurricane forecast models in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific.

"This storm is still a very powerful one, even though it dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 while we were flying through it," said Schroeder. He said the eye was developing a new eye, called a concentric eye during the flight. While the older eye was diminishing a new, more narrow eye of 10 miles across, was forming, he said.