NOAA, USAF Reserve embark on Gulf Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour

Public and media invited to tour the aircraft

As part of its efforts to build a Weather-Ready Nation, NOAA’s hurricane experts will tour five U.S. Gulf coastal cities to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. The tour will include a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft, both of which are used in hurricane forecasting.

The USAF Reserve WC-130J (left) and the NOAA G-IV (right) on display at the NOAA HAT site in Norfolk, Virginia, May 6, 2015.

The USAF Reserve WC-130J (left) and the NOAA G-IV (right) on display at the NOAA HAT site in Norfolk, Virginia, May 6, 2015. (Image credit: NOAA)

"All of the technologies we apply to issuing the best possible forecasts will live up to their full potential only if communities, families, and individuals prepare far in advance,” said Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. “We all must dedicate ourselves to taking steps now to be ready, long before the next hurricane strikes."

The tour is partnering with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offsite link (FLASH) with the #HurricaneStrong offsite link campaign to reenergize and inspire hurricane readiness by increasing public awareness and action before the next storm strikes.

Along with hurricane specialists Daniel Brown and John Cangialosi, Knabb will travel on the aircraft when they visit San Antonio, Texas; Galveston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Naples, Florida. The public and media are invited to tour the aircraft and meet the team.

The WC-130J aircraft is one of ten specially configured aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force Reserve from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Wing, located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When flying a hurricane mission, military air crews fly directly through the eye of the storm several times each flight. They collect data and transmit it near-real-time by satellite directly to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center so forecasters can analyze and predict changes to the hurricane’s path and strength. This refining of storm track models saves US taxpayers millions of dollars.

The NOAA G-IV is part of that agency's fleet of highly specialized research and operational aircraft. The G-IV is operated, managed and maintained by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. It flies at high altitude around and ahead of a tropical cyclone, gathering critical data that feeds into hurricane forecast models.

“The HAT is a great opportunity for the public to tour the Air Force Reserve WC-130J and gain an understanding of how the Hurricane Hunters collect the data and provide it to the NHC," said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, 53rd WRS senior meteorologist. “It’s also a great opportunity to educate the public about the importance of severe weather preparedness and serve as a role model to future aviators and meteorologists.”

Staff from local emergency management offices, FEMA, non-profit organizations, such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and several local NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices will join various stops on the tour.

NOAA has conducted the hurricane awareness tour for more than 30 years, alternating between the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. The tour is part of NOAA’s hurricane hazard education campaign, coinciding with National Hurricane Preparedness Week. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.

Public Tour Schedule:

●     Mon., May 16: San Antonio Int’l Airport, San Antonio, Tex. 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

●     Tue., May 17: Scholes Intl. Airport, Galveston, Tex., 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

●     Wed., May 18: Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, La., 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

●     Thu., May 19: Mobile Downtown Airport, Mobile, Ala., 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

●     Fri., May 20: Naples Municipal Airport, Naples, Fla., 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.

More information:
U.S. Air Force 403rd Wing

Media contact
Dennis Feltgen
305-433-1933 (cell)