Hurricane hunters prepare to meet Felicia head-on

Rick Knabb
Rick Knabb
John Fox
John Fox

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - As Hurricane Felicia nears the Hawaiian islands, US Air Force planes prepare to meet the storm head-on. As many as four C-130 aircraft will arrive in Hawaii from Mississippi.

The C-130 aircraft is one high-tech hurricane tracker. Wind speed, temperature, humidity and pressure information are its targets as they plan to fly directly into the eye of the storm.

"That track data is intended to make our forecast more accurate, past hurricanes shows that data does make a difference," said Central Pacific Hurricane Center's Rick Knabb.

"It's kind of like running a football, you're going to get hit you just don't want to get hit too hard," said US Air Force navigator John Fox.

Fox describes what it was like to fly into 2007's Hurricane Flossie. With technology called "Smurf," or Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer, it allows pilots to see through clouds and get a more accurate sea surface temperature.

"The more heat, the more energy and it literally feeds the storm," said Fox.

"Felicia's going to take a turn at some point," said Knabb.

But exactly where and how far south, forecasters don't know yet. The information from the C-130s will be sent to the National Hurricane Center in Miami and will also determine if our islands will be hit and how hard.

"It's still too uncertain whether we're going to get direct impact and how strong Felicia will be when it gets near," said Knabb.

With potentially serious weather headed our way, hunters will target and tell us about Hurricane Felicia's threat.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) G-4 jet will also be used to drop instruments on parachutes down into the storm to get other measurements.

The aircraft should arrive on Friday and possibly head out towards the hurricane on Saturday.