Hurricane Hunters make up an elite team of flight meteorologists that flies into hurricanes and tropical storms to gather the data that informs severe weather predictions nationwide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, as well as the United States Air Force, both oversee Hurricane Hunter teams. The data collected during these missions advises the watches, warnings, and evacuations that help protect lives and property.
These pilots, crews, and scientists operate a fleet of specialized aircraft designed to withstand the extreme turbulence in a tropical storm or hurricane. The aircraft are equipped with specialized instruments to measure variables needed to get an accurate picture of the storm’s size, severity, and trajectory, such as wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature, and Doppler radar throughout the storm.
Meet Jessica Williams, a flight director with NOAA's Hurricane Hunter team based in Lakeland, Florida. Jessica’s job is to direct her aircraft in and around the hurricane or tropical storm environment and direct the collection of data for use by the National Hurricane Center in their official storm forecasts.