Discover the Strange Flight Routes of Hurricane Hunters!

Hurricane hunters are an essential part of understanding and forecasting storms. Flying in extremely dangerous conditions, they brave the storm to collect vital data on temperatures, wind speeds and the like, for meteorologists to form more accurate forecasts. But have you ever wondered why they fly in such peculiar patterns into hurricanes?

Hurricane hunting planes fly in very distinct patterns, called penetrations, into storms. The most common of these is the corkscrew pattern. These flights usually start just outside the eye of the storm. The plane climbs to an altitude of 10,000 to 23,000 feet, finds the strongest wind, then begins spiraling down in a corkscrew or spiral pattern. As it descends, the plane takes measurements and observations of the hurricane. This pattern is followed multiple times on the same storm.

The spiral pattern is used due to the nature of hurricane winds. In hurricanes, winds typically rotate around a calm center, known as the eye wall. If the plane is to pass through this eye wall, it is important to take measurements at several different altitudes to accurately assess the strength of the storm. The spiral pattern allows the plane to collect data from different altitudes as it spirals downward towards the center of the storm.

The data that these planes collect from the spiral penetrations is vital for meteorologists to form accurate forecasts. Through these flights, meteorologists are able to get a more detailed picture of the inner workings of the storm. This data can help forecasters make more accurate predictions about a hurricane’s trajectory and intensity.

Hurricane hunters are a crucial part of hurricane forecasting. The spiral penetrations that these planes fly can help us to better understand and chart storms. Without their mission, our forecasting capabilities and preparedness would be greatly impeded.