A relative rarity outside of hurricane season, reconnaissance aircraft crews often known as the “Hurricane Hunters” will fly into the weekend nor’easter to aid with forecasts, the National Weather Service confirmed.
The air crews, based out of Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, will make two flights: one at 2 p.m. Friday and one at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Each time, the flight crew will make 10 drops into the storm, using sensors to gather data including air pressure, wind speeds and other information.
The aircraft will fly “as high as possible,” a copy of the flight plan said.
While the WC-130 aircraft and their crews are most known for their daring missions flying above the center of hurricanes and tropical weather systems, winter flight plans are not unheard of, and the National Weather Service develops specific winter plans that differ slightly from tropical-weather missions.
In a winter mission, “the goal is to release the dropsonde as high as possible in the atmosphere and ahead of the storm extending the network of weather data over the water,” according to an article posted by the Hurricane Hunter Association. “This data drastically increases the accuracy of computer weather forecasts for nor’easters and pacific winter low pressure systems.”