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‘Hurricane Hunter’ lands in SVG

‘Hurricane Hunter’ lands in SVG


Vincentians, especially Geography students, are now more knowledgeable about hurricane preparedness and how hurricane data is collected, thanks to a one-day visit from members of the U.S. National Hurricane Center and the crew of the WC-130J “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft.{{more}}

The main objective of the mission was to educate residents of vulnerable communities about hurricane preparedness and heighten awareness for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1.

The mammoth aircraft landed at the E.T. Joshua Airport on Thursday, May 8.

While in St Vincent, crew members conducted tours of the aircraft and explained what their tasks entail.

This visit of the aircraft was co-ordinated by the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), the Airports Department and the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO), in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Air Force Reserve, as part of the preparation for the 2014 hurricane season.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, crew member Darrien Thornton explained that the Hurricane Hunter flies through hurricanes and collects data, which is then sent to back to the hurricane centre.

He said the data is sent so as to notify the public in what direction the hurricane is headed and what speed it is travelling at.

“We actually go into the hurricane to record that data. We are also here to familiarize the public on general information about the hurricane and it what it entails,” Thornton said.

Michelle Forbes, deputy director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), said with the hurricane season just three weeks away, the visit by the Hurricane Hunter, which was planned since last year, but was cancelled, could not have come at a better time.

“This year, they decided to come to St Vincent. We had hundreds of students visiting from secondary schools, pre-schools, the general public, but our main target were the third and fourth form Geography students,” she said.

Forbes stated that the response from the public was great and she is glad that they had the opportunity to learn about hurricanes and how to prepare for them.

The mission was led by Dr Rick Knabb – director of the U.S National Hurricane Center and included Dr Lixion Avila, senior Hurricane specialist, Gladys Rubio, Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch meteorologist; and Air Force reservists from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS), 403rd Wing, and Keesler Air Force Base.

The information collected by the aircraft makes possible advance warning of hurricanes and increases the accuracy of hurricane predictions and warnings by as much as 20 per cent. Collected data is relayed directly to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, a Department of Commerce weather agency that tracks hurricanes and is responsible for providing warning services in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.(KW)