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Friday, August 26, 2011

A Hurricane Hunter’s View Of Irene

A view of the eye of Hurricane Irene taken from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft. (Courtesy of NOAA)

A view of the eye of Hurricane Irene taken from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Hurricane Irene focused her aim on the Eastern Seaboard Friday, threatening 65 million people from North Carolina to New England.

Paul Flaherty has already seen the massive storm up close.

Flaherty is a flight meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., and he recently flew with a crew of more than a dozen others into the eye of Hurricane Irene.

“People think it’s crazy being on an aircraft bouncing around,” he told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer.

“But I always liken it to– if you go to an amusement park, if you’re on a roller coaster you’re expecting to have that kind of ride. If you go on a Ferris wheel you’re not. We are expecting to be involved in a lot of movement on that aircraft so it doesn’t really bother us that much.”

Paul Flaherty, a hurricane hunter with the NOAA. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Paul Flaherty, a hurricane hunter with the NOAA. (Courtesy of NOAA)

The team uses two types of aircraft to collect data: The Gulfstream G-4, a jet that flies around and above the hurricane; and the Orion P-3, which is a propeller plane that flies directly into the storm.

“Our plane is just a speck in that storm,” he said .

“Sometimes it dawns on me it might be a little crazy what we’re doing, but I’ve seen the number of people we’ve been able to evacuate in storms, so I know we’re doing it for the right reasons,” he said.

Flaherty’s team gathers information that’s used to determine weather patterns and the need for evacuations. They learn about the wind from Doppler radar measured on a device that sits on the tail of the plane.

They also use a tube-like device called a “dropsonde” that’s dropped from the plane into the hurricane and sends back readings on temperature, pressure and humidity.

Guest:

  • Paul Flaherty, a “hurricane hunter” who recently flew into the eye of Irene. He’s a flight meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Sunny

    Sound like a possible H.A.A.R.P. attack.

    High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program

  • Carroll-richard

    My sister Barbara knows Paul Flaherty. I think her friend went to Plymouth State College
    in New Hampshire with Paul. I was just speaking with my sister to tell her the latest news of Irene and how Massachusetts is now in a state of emergency.

    Barbara told me she is getting up to the hour info from Paul on Facebook. So much for my info!! 

  • Steve

    I hear all these warnings about various evacuations in the New York and Long Island area.Here is a question for you  at Here and Now, NPR and the  mainstream media buddies.
    WHAT WILL HURRICANE IRENE DO TO THE LEVEL 5 BIO-WEAPONS LAB ON PLUM ISLAND?

    WILL WE HAVE A CONTAGION ESCAPE AND HIT NYC AND CONNECTICUT THAT WILL BE REALLY RIPE BY THE 9/9/2011 RELEASE OF THE MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME, AND INDEED TRAVEL WORLD WIDE?

    Just a thought. I haven’t heard anything about this from all our experts and authorities.
    What does FEMA or Homeland Security doing to secure Plum Island?
    Or do we wait for a disaster, then declare a state of emergency or even Martial Law. 

  • Sandra Saylor

    Re:  Colleges graduation.  I was all for the Pell grants when I first became aware of them for working students.  I have been watching three of my young friends frankly abusing the priveleges.  They have failed classes, dropped classes and failed to appreciate the benefit.  I am sure that there are some very deserving students also.  My son went to a California State University and had to go for an extra year to graduate because the class he needed to graduate in his major was never offered…really.  Finally he just combined his credits and graduated with a Biology major. 

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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