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Eye of the Storm

BEFORE THE FLIGHT Doremus prepares to fly into Hurricane Ida in August 2021. NOAA

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When a hurricane threatens to make landfall in the United States, crews of hurricane hunters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fly into the storm. They do this to learn more about it.

Lieutenant Commander Kevin Doremus is a pilot with the NOAA. His job is to guide a Lockheed WP-3D Orion through the eyewall eyewall the area immediately outside the center of a hurricane (noun) After flying through the eyewall, the plane was in the center of the storm. of a hurricane. Doremus and his copilot work with an onboard meteorologist known as the flight director to maneuver the aircraft safely.

READY FOR RAIN The plane Doremus flies into hurricanes is designed to withstand fierce winds and rain.


Scientists on board measure the air pressure, temperature, and humidity at the storm’s center. They measure the wind’s direction and speed. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center use this information. They predict the path a hurricane will take and how much storm surge storm surge the abnormal rise in sea level caused by a storm (noun) A storm surge caused flooding in coastal towns. it will produce. These determine whether evacuations are necessary. The work of hurricane hunters saves lives.

POWERFUL STORM Storms such as 2016’s Hurricane Alex are among the planet’s most destructive forces.


Five 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 extensive training. Much of it is spent learning how to react if something goes wrong. “We will only fly a mission if we can mitigate mitigate to lessen (verb) Evan did his math homework on Friday to mitigate the amount of work he'd do over the weekend. risks to a safe level,” Doremus says.

HIGHLY DECORATED Planes that fly into hurricanes are often adorned with stickers from past missions.


Hurricane hunters work unusual hours. Hurricane hunters monitor storms round the clock for days. If Doremus is assigned to a night mission, he gets up at 2 a.m. and is 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, and we’re ready to do it.”

Education in science is key. Doremus earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He earned a graduate certificate in coastal studies from Nova Southeastern University, in Florida.

Strong leadership skills are a must. “You are put in situations where we need people to make split-second decisions,” Doremus says.

NOAA pilots stay busy in the off-season. The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 to November 30. The rest of the year, Doremus flies smaller planes called Twin Otters to support scientific research around the globe.