Hurricane hunters visit Raleigh as part of NOAA tour

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Lucas Caulder flies into hurricanes for a living.

“In a bad one, it’s wall to wall,” said Caldwell. “It’s lightning popping off in your face every five to ten seconds.”

Why does he fly into hurricanes? While most people try to get as far away from hurricanes as possible, Caulder is a hurricane hunter, whose job it is to fly right into the storm where he measures wind, pressure, temperature and humidity in and around the storm.

“We have a dropsonde,” said Caulder. “It’s about a foot long or so cylinder that has a stabilizing shoot on it that drops out of the bottom of the opening and that’s gonna collect data all the way down to the surface.”

Caulder was in Raleigh Wednesday as part of NOAA’s Hurricane Awareness Tour, where two aircraft, NOAA’s G-IV aircraft and a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J “Hurricane Hunter,” were on display.

Flying into these storms is a tough job, but someone has to do it, and despite the danger, “it is a thrill,” Caldwell says.

So do Caldwell’s friends and family think he’s crazy for flying into the storms?

“Absolutely,” said Caldwell. “Yeah, absolutely. There’s no other way to put it. A little crazy.”

The real question is, does Caldwell think he’s crazy for flying into the storms?

“Ahhh the jury’s out,” he says.

The jury may be out on that, but the hurricane hunters certainly prove their worth year after year.

“We’re able to increase the forecast track by over 20 percent with our data assimilating into the forecast models,” said Cmdr. Doug MacIntrye, NOAA.

Their flights were a huge help in nailing down Matthew’s track last fall and knowing where the storm will end up means the world to those tasked with keeping all of us safe.

“That allows us as emergency managers to make operational decisions on how to prepare,” said Michael Sprayberry, N.C. Emergency Management director.

If you missed out today, you’ll have to wait until 2019 for the next NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour along the east coast.

For tips on staying safe this hurricane season, visit http://www.weather.gov/os/hurricane/.

 

 

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