PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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.
Robin and Jeremy

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

July 30 35 Comments

Oxford Conservationist Talks About 7 Years Of Tracking Cecil

The 13-year-old lion was not only a tourist favorite, but also, a research animal. The beloved lion was being studied by the Oxford University Conservation Unit.

July 30 27 Comments

NAACP To Begin 860-Mile ‘Journey For Justice’ March

The march, which will travel from Selma, Ala. to Washington, seeks to highlight vulnerable communities subject to regressive voting rights.

July 29 2 Comments

Garden-Inspired Cooking With Kathy Gunst

We visit our resident chef's garden in Maine, make gazpacho and get a recipe for a plum tart with hazelnut crust.

July 29 655 Comments

Two Sides Of The GMO Debate

We moderate a debate over a bill that would bar states from forcing food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods.