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What it's like to be a 'hurricane hunter' flying into Hurricane Ian

Ensign Mick Zimmerman, U.S. Navy, posing with an Airborne Expendable Bathythermograph (AXBT), which is an ocean sensor that is deployed from the aircraft at various positions in the hurricane to measure how ocean temperature changes with depth. (Ensign Mick Zimmerman)
Ensign Mick Zimmerman, U.S. Navy, posing with an Airborne Expendable Bathythermograph (AXBT), which is an ocean sensor that is deployed from the aircraft at various positions in the hurricane to measure how ocean temperature changes with depth. (Ensign Mick Zimmerman)

One of the ways scientists gather data about storms like Hurricane Ian is by flying into them. Mick Zimmerman is a Naval Officer studying ocean physics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and he’s flown into Hurricane Ian four times this week as part of the Air Force’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the “hurricane hunters.”

The hospitality and support of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron allows for the cross-organizational effort between the Air Force and the Navy. Led by Captain Beth Sanabia, U.S. Navy, and Dr. Steven Jayne of Woods Hole, the Training and Research in Oceanic and Atmospheric Processes in Tropical Cyclones (TROPIC) program aims to provide ocean data that allows for better hurricane intensity forecasting and better understanding of the physical processes that occur underneath hurricanes. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jordyn Diomede/U.S. Navy)

Here & Now‘s Celeste Headlee talks with Zimmerman about the experience and the data he and other scientists gather on these flights.

View from the WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the eye of Hurricane Ian as he was making landfall. (Dr. Steve Jayne)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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