Crowds get to eye Hurricane Hunter up close

| 02/05/2017
CNS Local Life

Cayman Academy students tour the aircraft

(CNS Local Life): About 1,000 people, comprising students from 12 different schools and members of the public, took advantage of a rare opportunity to tour a Hurricane Hunter aircraft on Wednesday, 26 April. The plane made a one-day stop at Owen Roberts International Airport’s General Aviation Terminal yesterday to promote hurricane readiness. The crowds were treated to a look inside the aircraft and heard stories from the crew on what it’s like to fly into the eye of a storm.

The Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) and Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) welcomed pilots and crew, and served as co-hosts of all the day’s events.

The visit was part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2017 “Hurricane Awareness Tour”. Grand Cayman was the crew’s third of five stops.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a flying unit of the US Air Force, operates the WC-130J aircraft as its weather data collection platform.

On the same day, NOAA hurricane experts, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Dr Rick Knabb, and senior hurricane specialist, Dr Lixion Avila, led a public workshop at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Around 40 people attended the conference, which gave insight into the advancements of weather radar, and how scientists collect hurricane information and alert affected regions immediately when forecast models indicate a threat.

Knabb encouraged the audience always to be prepared and aware of hazards that come with hurricanes, like heavy winds and rain that can pose major threats during and after a storm. He also emphasised the dangers and devastation that can be caused by storm surge

Later in the day, the experts took calls and answered the public’s questions on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today show.

“The Hurricane Hunter visit was a major success,” CINWS Director-General John Tibbetts said. “Hundreds of people took advantage of the opportunity to view the state-of-the-art aircraft, receive first-hand knowledge from the crew and have their questions answered from the experts.”

HMCI Director McCleary Frederick added, “We are extremely grateful that Grand Cayman was a stop on this year’s hurricane awareness tour and also for the hurricane hunters, Dr Knabb’s and Dr Avila’s, willingness to share their knowledge to educate the public on hurricanes.”

Tibbetts stressed the importance of the public being informed. “These overseas visits serve to demonstrate the work of meteorologists and to give the public a better understanding of what goes into forecasting and predicting hurricanes,” he said. “I believe it also encourages local leaders and other key players to keep hurricane preparedness at the forefront.”

Hurricane season runs from 1 June-30 November.

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Category: Weather

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