Monday, March 13, 2017

USAF Hurricane Hunter flies winter storm (March 12)

In the course of learning and then writing about Hurricane Hunters last year, see for example this post, I learned that the Hurricane Hunter aircraft will sometimes fly reconnaissance missions into winter storms to gather information that can go into the weather models. Last Friday I saw a couple of references that such a Hurricane Hunter Recon flight was planned for this past weekend.
I know that I saw a couple of other references to this Hurricane Hunter recon flight. Unfortunately, I failed to bookmark these references.

Some of you may recall that there is a nice website that tracks reconnaissance flights into the Atlantic by NOAA's and the USAF's Hurricane Hunters, Aerial Reconnaissance in the North Atlantic. Wanting to find out a little more that I could share with you, I went to Aerial Reconnaissance in the North Atlantic and then to their Recon Archives, and looked under non-tasked missions in 2017. I found what I was looking for:

Mar.12th, 00.38Z, Track66, flown by AF304 (US Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron).

If you look at the list of flights under non-tasked missions in 2017, you will see that you have the option to either look at a map in Google Earth or in Cesium (that you can access with most but not all browsers). I used Cesium to get some screen shots for you.

Here is a partial list of archived flights for you:
obtained on March 13, 2017, 2:45 PM EDT from
Here are a couple of shots from Cesium (represented by the icon on the far right in the last column:
The flight of AF304 is represented in orange. Obtained on 3/13/17from

And here is a close up view where you can see icons that represent dropsondes and the hourglass icons represent observations:

Finally I selected a dropsonde observation for you. I could only get a small portion of the data for you in this screen shot.

Obtained on 3/13/17from
As a resident of New Jersey, one of the many states that will be impacted by this major winter storm tonight into tomorrow, I want to thank AF304 and her crew from the USAF 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron for flying this storm and getting data on the storm that can only be obtained from the air. I know that this data went into the weather models used by the National Weather Service. Your flight on our behalf matters! Thank-you again and stay safe!

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