Hurricane Hunter Visits Grand Cayman20 April 2017, 5:45 AM
A Hurricane Hunter aircraft and its intrepid crew are heading to Grand Cayman next week, as part of a regional tour to educate and prepare people for the 2017 hurricane season.
The visit is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) and the United States Air Force Reserve's annual tour of Latin America and the Caribbean, during which they advise on their role in assisting countries in hurricane regions.
Tours of the Air Force Reserve Command's WC-130J Hurricane Hunter will be held on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at the General Aviation Terminal, next to the Island Air hanger at the Owen Roberts International Airport from 11a.m. to 3p.m.
During the tour, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, an elite United States Air Force Reserve Unit, will showcase the aircraft to the public and share their experiences of flying through hurricanes.
"Military air crews fly the WC-130J aircrafts directly into the core of the hurricane to gather data on the system's structure that is critical for forecasting a storm's magnitude and path," Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) Director-General John Tibbetts explains. "The information collected is then sent in real time via satellite from the aircraft directly to the National Hurricane Center for analysis by weather forecasters."
NOAA hurricane experts, including the Director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Dr. Rick Knabb, and senior hurricane specialist Dr. Lixion Avila, will also be on site to provide information about hurricane preparedness.
Around 300 students from various high schools and many government leaders will tour the aircraft. Members of the public are also invited to participate, ask questions of the onboard weather specialists and take photos with the crew.
On the same day, international and local weather experts, including Dr. Knabb, will lead a public workshop at the Ritz-Carlton starting at noon and concluding at 1.30p.m.
At the workshop the public will hear about the latest developments in hurricane forecasting and the future direction of the science. Also, the public will gain critical insights into threats such as storm surge and tornadic winds which are also associated with hurricanes.
Radio listeners can also tune-in to Radio Cayman's Talk Today show at 12.15p.m. on the Wednesday to hear from the experts and have their questions answered on air.
All the events are being coordinated by the Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) and Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI).
HMCI Director McCleary Frederick said his office believes the Hurricane Hunter's visit will significantly impact local awareness.
"If you live in an area prone to tropical cyclones, you need to be prepared, and that is what this Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour is all about," he explained. "We want the people of the Cayman Islands to be prepared and know what to expect if disaster ever strikes."
Agreeing with this assessment, Mr. Tibbetts adds: "We are extremely excited the aircraft is making a stop in Grand Cayman, and we urge the public to take full advantage of this opportunity."
During the 2016 hurricane season the 53rd WRS flew 75 missions for the National Hurricane Center, including 12 investigative flights over the Atlantic. The hurricane hunters also flew one mission over the eastern North Pacific and 14 over the central North Pacific. The eastern North Pacific hurricane season begins 15 May 2017, while the central North Pacific and Atlantic basin hurricane season begins 1 June 2017.
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