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Hurricane hunters fly into Tropical Storm Calvin

By Paul Drewes

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    HAWAII COUNTY (KITV) — Air Force Hurricane Hunters flew a second day of flights in and around Calvin as it approached Hawaii.

“We are collecting data to help forecasters and forecast models, so they can better predict where the storm will hit,” said 1st. Lt. Cristina Pereda.

Data like wind speed and temperatures, which can determine if a storm is strengthening or weakening. Crews are also able to pinpoint the exact center of the storm. All that information can make a storm forecast more accurate.

“Forecasters said we can improve the forecast by 25%. Instead of evacuating a 100 miles area of coastline, you can bring that down to 75 miles. You don’t want to be evacuating where you don’t need to be,” stated Lt. Col. Grant Wagner.

But in order to get that important information, Hurricane Hunters have to fly into the eye of the storm. That is where the strongest winds whip around in the eye wall, something that would make wary air travelers nervous about turbulence.

“The turbulence isn’t too bad. We fly at 180 knots, so we go pretty slow. The slower you go, you aren’t going to feel it as much,” added Pereda.

While most people would want to avoid severe weather, these Hurricane Hunters actually look forward to heading into the most powerful storms.

“We fly all year long, but to actually go into the eye of a category 5 hurricane, you may only get that opportunity once every couple of years. So you never become complacent, and it never gets old,” stated Wagner.

Their final mission into and around Calvin is underway and will continue until the storm passes the islands or reaches land — what is known as the coasting mission.

“On the coasting mission, it is always important to get the exact eye as it is coasting in. So they can anticipate whats coming to land,” added Wagner.

Once crews have flown their final mission, they will get a day to recover in Hawaii before all 60 of the squadron personnel start their long trip back to Biloxi Mississippi. That will take 2 days of flying to reach their home base.

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