Defense

August 24, 2012

Hurricane Hunters track Isaac as SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM prepare

by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

With Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on the Dominican Republic and Haiti and threatening to strengthen over the eastern Caribbean, the “Hurricane Hunters” from the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are in the air, relaying critical data to National Weather Service forecasters in Miami.

Meanwhile, staffs at both the U.S. Southern and Northern Commands are monitoring the storm closely and ensuring they are ready to provide support to civilian authorities, including the U.S. Agency for International Development and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Three six-person crews from the 53rd WRS and their maintainers and support staff deployed to St. Croix from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., last weekend, Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, the squadron’s chief meteorologist, told American Forces Press Service. Operating out of the international airport there, they began flying their specially equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft through the storm Aug. 21.

On a typical mission that can run up to 12 hours, the aircrews crisscross the storm in what the teams call an “alpha pattern,” he explained. Sophisticated onboard instruments and small canisters dropped by parachute to the ocean’s surface collect accurate measurements of the storm’s location and intensity.

That information is fed continuously to the National Hurricane Center via an onboard satellite link. In addition, the aircraft sends automated messages every 10 minutes, relaying barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and other measurements.

“The reason this data is critical is because, with satellites, you can track where storms are and get a general picture, but you can’t peer into the storm and physically measure what is happening at the ocean’s surface,” Talbot said. “That is the important piece of information you need to know when it comes to providing warnings to the public. The emergency management community needs to know what is going on near the surface of the ocean, because those are the winds that are going to come ashore.”

With about six missions already under their belts during the past three days, Talbot said, the pace will pick up considerably as Isaac moves west toward the United States. “Currently, we are doing about three missions a day, but that will go up to four or five when the storm comes within 300 miles of the U.S. coastline,” he said.

The Hurricane Hunters expect to move west along with the storm, redeploying to Keesler Air Force Base to resume those missions beginning this weekend. In the event that the crews have to evacuate Keesler, Talbot said, they already have alternate operating sites lined up. “We track these things pretty closely, because if we end up having to jump from here, we still have to continue flying and providing that data while we are evacuating our own resources,” he said. “It becomes a big, tangled web, but it always works out pretty well.”

As a precaution, aircraft and ships are being moved out of the storm’s possible path and other assets are being secured, according to Southcom spokesman Army Lt. Col. Darryl Wright. Planning teams are busy running rehearsal meetings and preparing to verify personnel and resource requests, if USAID issues them, he said.

Wright emphasized that military support, if provided, would be part of a coordinated U.S. response led by civilian authorities. “We conduct close coordination and planning and provide DOD support to relief efforts upon request,” he said. “Through this close coordination, we ensure that we respond with the most efficient means available to the U.S. government.”

In terms of disaster response, Wright said efficiency is typically more important than speed in reducing suffering and saving lives.

Northcom, too, is in a monitoring mode. But with the storm expected to intensify late this weekend when it hits the Atlantic and the Florida Straits, the command deployed a defense coordinating officer and element to Puerto Rico on Aug. 20 to support FEMA, John Cornelio, Northcom’s media operations chief, told American Forces Press Service.

The element of about 20 people is assessing the situation and standing ready to provide assistance, if requested. “We have learned the value of being forward enough to cut down on the response time, if required,” Cornelio said.

With Isaac’s path still anyone’s guess, officials say it’s too soon to know whether it will hit Tampa, site of next week’s Republican National Convention. Northcom has a team deployed there to support the Secret Service during the convention, Cornelio reported.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>