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When a hurricane is brewing near the United States, crews of hurricane hunters fly into the storm. They do this to learn more about it.
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Doremus is a pilot. He works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His job is to fly a jet through the eyewall of a hurricane. Doremus and a copilot work with a flight director. Together, they guide the aircraft safely.NOAA
Scientists on board measure the air pressure, temperature, and humidity at a storm’s center. They measure the wind’s direction and speed. The National Hurricane Center uses this information. It predicts the path a hurricane will take and how much storm surge it will produce. These determine whether evacuations are necessary. The work of hurricane hunters saves lives.GIZEM GECIM—GETTY IMAGES
Four Fast Facts
Want to hunt hurricanes? Here, Doremus helps describe some key aspects of the job.
Hurricane hunters prioritize safety. Flying into a hurricane seems risky. But NOAA pilots undergo training. Much of it is spent learning how to react if something goes wrong. “We will only fly a mission if we can mitigate risks to a safe level,” Doremus says.JIM WATSON—AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Hurricane hunters work odd hours. They monitor storms around the clock. If Doremus is assigned to a night mission, he’s in the air by 4 a.m. “Getting up that early can be difficult,” he says. “But we’re here to [offer] support 24 hours a day.”
Leadership skills are a must. “We need people to make split-second decisions,” Doremus says.
NOAA pilots stay busy in the off-season. The Atlantic hurricane season goes from June 1 to November 30. The rest of the year, Doremus flies smaller planes to support scientific research around the globe.