Hurricane hunters soar into DC

WASHINGTON — Tuesday calls for sunny skies, but you might see a shadow or two as a fleet of hurricane hunter aircraft descends on Reagan National Airport.

On May 9, hurricane experts will fly into the area as part of their Hurricane Awareness Tour, in effort to raise awareness about storm preparedness.

“Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season — have your supplies ready and know where you will go when safe shelter is needed,” said Rick Knabb, director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Center.

As part of the program, the public can talk to crew members who fly planes through the eye of a hurricane, and see the four types of hurricane aircraft on display from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Planes on display include a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft, which flies directly through the eye of a storm; the NOAA G-IV aircraft, which flies ahead of a storm; the NOAA WP-3D Orion research aircraft; and the NOAA Beechcraft aircraft.

In addition, visitors can chat with meteorologists from the National Weather Service, as well as staff from local emergency management offices.

Lt. Col. Kaitlyn Woods said the tour is important because it highlights how the meteorologists work with the National Hurricane Center and “educates the public and children who can take severe weather preparedness messages back to their families.”

Before the Atlantic hurricane season begins in June, the tour is making stops in six cities in the United States and Canada as part of the awareness campaign they’ve been conducting for over 35 years.

“With advanced planning, communities can better take a hit from nature and recover more quickly. Don’t wait for a storm to threaten — by then it may be too late,” Knabb said.


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