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Hurricane Hunter: Flying into Ian was the ‘roughest flight of my career’

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Posted at 11:51 AM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 14:51:47-04

Engineer Nick Underwood documented his flight into the eye of Hurricane Ian onboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunter aircraft early Wednesday.

The airplane has been providing round-the-clock updates from inside of the hurricane. Data from the Hurricane Hunters helped officials at the National Hurricane Center determine Ian strengthened into an intense Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday.

Underwood said the flight was “the roughest flight” of his career. Underwood said he has been flying with NOAA for six years.

The NOAA airplane was among two missions flying into Hurricane Ian. The U.S. Air Force also routinely flies into hurricanes.

“Want to stress we don’t this for fun,” Underwood said. “It’s a public service. We go up there to gather data on the storm that can keep folks on the ground safe. Those forecast models? A lot of the data comes from what we do. I’m a very small part of a large team. Incredible teammates.”

During flights, Hurricane Hunters drop instruments into storms to measure wind speed, dewpoint, air pressure and other meteorological conditions. Those measurements are used to help officials determine the path and forecasted intensity of hurricanes.