The National Hurricane Center is facing a potentially dangerous shortcoming when it comes to observing hurricanes. The sequester, and its resulting federal furloughs, is putting a crunch on the ability to conduct critical aircraft or “Hurricane Hunter” reconnaissance missions, just as we head into the peak months of an active Atlantic hurricane season.
At NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC), forecasters rely on as much real-time data about tropical cyclones as possible, including computer models, land-based weather stations, ocean buoys, ships, radar, satellite images and data, and aircraft data.
Aircraft data are an essential part of the forecaster’s toolbox because the planes fly directly into hurricanes to collect high-resolution measurements of the storm’s position, intensity, central pressure, and wind structure. They then transmit these data back to NHC in real-time for analysis.
For the complete story by Brian McNoldy of The Washington Post, click here.