Hurricane Katrina
NOAA Hurricane Hunter Gulfstream IV
High Altitude Sampling Mission
August 26, 2005 by Jim Edds

Watch the Video of the Flight

I was aboard this critical Hurricane Katrina sampling flight to gather atmospheric data for the model runs.  Already Hurricane Katrina was not behaving as the NHC forecasted so this mission was very important.  Katrina had moved SW across Florida and the net result was more time over warm water.  The forecast was shaping up to be ominous as history would show.  The NOAA G4 jet actually never gets close to the core of a hurricane.  Its mission is to fly 9 hours around the hurricane and measure the steering currents.  All that data is fed into the computers to yield a more reliable forecast track.  This was a mission of a lifetime for me and I relished every minute of this sweet ride.  Paul Flaherty, the flight director, pulled up the doppler radar image of Katrina.  We had an onboard satellite link to the internet in addition to our aircraft radar.  Wow, Katrina was very organized and a big feeder band was hammering Key West, Florida, my neck of the woods.  

The main task was to make sure all the dropsondes were functionally properly after they were dropped out the back of the airplane.  The pilots had a flight profile programmed into the auto pilot, complete with all the turns.  The mission specialists made some deviations to the scheduled drops if a dropsonde didn't function properly.  It was important that we get it right on this mission because Katrina was spinning up into a monster.

I racked up some big time Hurricane Hunter frequent flyer miles on this trip.  The ride was very smooth since we didn't get to close to rotational winds of Katrina.  My next ride in the NOAA P3 was to be completely different however.

Yours Truly in the yellow shirt - onboard, on the tarmac, and in the hanger after the mission

CoPilot looking over the recently downloaded IR Image of Katrina during the mission.

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